Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff got a boost in her fight against impeachment on Monday as a report prepared by analysts in the Senate found that there is no evidence to suggest she was personally responsible for fiscal wrongdoing. It remains unclear, however, how the findings will impact the impeachment process that has hinged on such allegations.
The 223-page report by three auditors found Rousseff did not cook the books in the lead up to her 2014 presidential reelection, dealing a blow to accusations from her rivals that she manipulated government accounts to hide a budget shortfall and delayed payments to public banks.
The budget charges have been the key justification behind the impeachment process against Rousseff, painted as a bid to tackle government corruption despite rampant and massive fraud among high-level opposition figures and the ranks of the installed government.
Leaked wiretaps revealing opposition plots to shield their allies from corruption investigations through Rousseff's ouster, and new evidence directly linking imposed "interim" president Michel Temer to the Petrobras state oil bribery scandal for the first time, have effectively debunked claims that impeachment was about rooting out corruption.
The report, however, did find that Rousseff participated directly in signing three budget decrees, another charge she faces in the impeachment process. The experts said it would be up to the Senate to decide if the decrees amount to negligence or other serious wrongdoing.
Rousseff's attorney, Eduardo Cardoza, argued that the new report is "fatal" for the accusations against her, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported. The suspended president has long maintained her innocence and argued there is no legal basis for impeachment, which she has labeled a "coup" against her government.
Rousseff said Monday that the new findings provide further evidence that the impeachment was an attempt to subvert democracy, the Brailian daily Folha de Sao Paulo reported. She added that the accusations regarding decrees have been reduced from six to three, again underlining arguments for her ouster.
The Senate Impeachment Commission has 72 hours to analyze this report, and starting July 5 representatives can interview the analysts. The vote to determine whether impeachment will be confirmed is scheduled to be held on Aug. 9.
teleSUR correspondent in Brazil Ignacio Lemus said the report indicates that Rousseff did not directly participate in a scheme to manipulate the budget. According to Lemus, the analysts found that no direct actions were taken by Rousseff to delay payments to public banks by the Brazilian National Treasury.
According to local media, opinion is divided within the Senate as Rousseff's aliies see the report as a victory for her case, while rivals remain bent on the impeachment going forward.
If the Senate, overseen by the Supreme Court, ultimately decides to impeach Rousseff with a two-thirds majority vote after her trial over allegations of manipulating government budgets, Temer will be permanently installed as president until 2018.
The Senate voted 55 to 22 in favor of suspending Rousseff for 180 days on May 12 to see the impeachment trial move forward, but in light of major corruption revelations and the unpopularity of the installed Temer government, some Senators have begun changing their positions.