RIO DE JANEIRO – Suspended President Dilma Rousseff said in an interview published Sunday that leaked audio recordings of men backing her impeachment show the effort to oust her is meant to stop a wide-ranging corruption probe that has implicated numerous leading Brazilian politicians and businessmen.
Rousseff told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo the revelation of the recordings gives her hope of returning to office. She was suspended early this month pending a Senate impeachment trial. Her now-estranged vice president, Michel Temer, is serving as interim leader.
Recordings of three politicians of Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party appear to link her ouster to attempts to limit the investigation. Those involved dispute that interpretation, and there is no evidence so far that they have stalled the probe.
"The dialogues show that the real cause for my impeachment was an attempt to obstruct the 'Car Wash' operation," Rousseff said, referring to the name of the corruption investigation at state-run oil giant Petrobras. "It was all made by those who thought that, without changing the government, the bleeding (of politicians) would continue."
She said another of the conversations noted that she had allowed the investigations to go forward. "These conversations prove what we have consistently said: We never interfered. And those that wanted my impeachment had that objective. It is not me saying, it is them."
The recordings forced new Planning Minister Romero Juca to take a leave of absence.
Two other heavyweights in Temer's party, Senate chief Renan Calheiros and former President Jose Sarney, were heard making damaging comments about the acting president, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's Supreme Court, lawmakers and businessmen.