Bolsonaro planned a coup to block Lula’s presidency

By Eleanor Hughes | Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian magazine on Thursday published audio of a senator claiming then-President Jair Bolsonaro was seeking help with a plot to nullify October’s election and stay in power.

In the recording, Senator Marcos do Val tells Veja magazine that the idea was discussed when he met with Bolsonaro and lawmaker Daniel Silveira at the presidential residence on December 9, three weeks before leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva takes office should .

Do Val, who was an ally during Bolsonaro’s four-year tenure, said the far-right leader gave him the “mission” to detain Alexandre de Moraes, a Supreme Court justice who also heads Brazil’s electoral body, while he tried to persuade the judge to do so to admit that he has exceeded his powers under the Constitution.

“‘I annul the election, Lula will not be sworn in, I remain in the presidency and arrest Alexandre de Moraes for his remarks,'” do Val quoted Bolsonaro as saying.

Veja released the audio in response to denials the senator issued following the magazine’s Thursday morning report on the alleged conspiracy, which had not cited him as a source. Do Val told reporters after the magazine published his story that the conspiracy was Silveira’s idea and that the former president didn’t say a word during the meeting.

Later Thursday, de Moraes ordered federal police to take Val’s affidavit within five days. Bolsonaro, who has kept a low profile in Florida since December 30, has not commented on the matter on any of his social media channels. He recently applied for a six-month tourist visa to stay in the United States

The alleged meeting adds to the growing list of woes for Bolsonaro, who is already under investigation for his possible role in his supporters’ uprising in the Brazilian capital on January 8.

Bolsonaro questioned the country’s electronic voting system for months leading up to the election, then refused to concede defeat. His diehard supporters have accused de Moraes of rigging the election in Lula’s favor without providing evidence and of exceeding his powers by blocking social media accounts and ordering alleged arbitrary arrests and searches.

Suspicions of a coup attempt grew after police searched the home of Bolsonaro’s former justice minister and found a draft decree that would have seized control of the electoral commission and potentially overturned the election. The origin of the unsigned document is unclear, and it remains unknown whether Bolsonaro or his subordinates took steps to implement the measure.

Do Val later told both Veja magazine and journalists on Thursday that he informed de Moraes of what was discussed at the meeting with Bolsonaro and Silveira and that he refused to take part in the alleged plot.

Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the former president’s son, said he was aware of the meeting, which he described as an attempt by Silveira to persuade the other two men to do something “totally unacceptable, absurd and illegal”. But discussing such an idea is not a crime, he said.

Silveira was arrested Thursday on de Moraes’ orders for violating the terms of his release from prison. Silveira had previously been convicted of anti-democratic acts after making threats against de Moraes and other judges, but was released after Bolsonaro pardoned him. Still, he was barred from using his social media accounts and ordered to wear an electronic ankle bracelet while other investigations into him continued.

Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo contributed to this report. Bolsonaro planned a coup to block Lula’s presidency

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