SAO PAULO – Brazilian President Michel Temer is facing a series of challenges to his year-old presidency. While the country's top electoral court voted 4-3 to reject allegations of campaign finance violations and keep him in office, Brazil's top prosecutor is considering charges of passive corruption, obstruction of justice and criminal organization. A businessman taped the president allegedly endorsing hush money for a jailed former lawmaker and also accused him of receiving bribes in exchange for influence.
Temer denies the claims and insists he won't resign. Here are some of the possible scenarios:
IF HE STAYS
Temer has already survived a series of scandals and vows to remain despite the new allegations. If he does hang on, he will have to do it with a shrinking coalition in Congress, single-digit popularity ratings and street protests. Many lawmakers have already withdrawn their support and members of his Cabinet have promised to resign. The junior partner in his coalition will meet Monday to decide whether it will stay with the president. Temer is trying to pass austerity measures to revive Brazil's economy, including bills to loosen labor laws and shore up the pension system. Congressional allies of Temer have acknowledged that agenda will be stalled for months.
IF HE RESIGNS
Lower House Speaker Rodrigo Maia would take over for up to 30 days ahead of a vote by all 513 deputies and 81 senators for a new president to serve out Temer's term, which ends in December 2018. Many lawmakers want Congress to pass a bill that would allow Brazilians as a whole to elect a new leader, but that process could last months.
IF HE IS IMPEACHED
Some lawmakers have called for impeachment. That could be a lengthy process, though, and the only person who could start it is a close ally of Temer, Lower House Speaker Rodrigo Maia. Brazil's lower house would have to accept the accusation by a two-thirds majority and half of the Senate would have to do the same. If Temer lost both votes, he would be suspended for up to 180 days. If two-thirds of the Senate then found him guilty of misdeeds, he would be permanently removed from office. Congress would then choose a successor to finish the term.
IF HE HAS TO STAND TRIAL
If Brazil's attorney general decides there is evidence that Temer committed a crime, he can request that the lower house authorize the Supreme Court to put the president on trial. If a legislative commission approved the request, it would go to the full house. If two-thirds of the lawmakers deputies agreed, Temer would be automatically suspended from office for up to six months until the court ruled. If he were found not guilty, he could return to his job. If not, he would lose his seat, possibly face jail time and trigger a congressional election of a new president.