Invalid and groundless—these were Attorney-General José Eduardo Cardozo's remarks about the recommendation for President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment in the report submitted by Deputy Jovair Arantes, the rapporteur on the impeachment case at the Chamber of Deputies, to the special committee on impeachment. The Attorney-General suggested that the “defects” and “nullities” raised by Rousseff's defense in Deputy Arantes's report should ideally be solved by Congress itself, but he did not rule out the possibility of seeking court remedies over them.
“I trust the special committee [on impeachment] to reject these recommendations. There are striking, blatantly clear defects that should be solved. We don't want such an important decision as this to drag on forever, but if any rights under the democratic rule of law are violated as far as a president's term of office is concerned, we are most certainly taking it to court,” Cardozo said, giving no hints as to when that could happen.
Cardozo, who is leading President Rousseff's defense, said he will firmly pursue his point that the impeachment proceedings are inadmissible. According to him, the report supporting the ouster has failed to address questions raised by the defense and includes arguments that are “outside of the boundaries of the charges.”
“It seems to us, with all due respect, that a conclusion was established from the start, and he [the rapporteur] set out looking for premises. In other words, he wanted impeachment, so he tried to find reasons for it. And yet I found no answers [in his report] to the questions that had been raised by the defense,” the Attorney-General said.
After the formal reading of the report, Cardozo called a press conference to dispute points that emerged at the session on Wednesday (Apr. 6), which he said should be rejected primarily because they violate Rousseff's right to defend herself.
Lawyers not heard
According to the Attorney-General, Rousseff's lawyers were not given an opportunity to speak in the impeachment proceedings. Even though they were not called, they turned up at the session on Wednesday (6) with the intention of raising objections during the reading of the report, but they were not allowed to speak. “Not giving the counsel the opportunity to be heard was a violation of the law and of a lawyer's rights, and this, again, has seriously prejudiced the president's right to defend herself,” he said.
Cardozo also said that Arantes's report has not covered questions raised by the defense about elements missing in the impeachment petition filed by lawyers Miguel Reale Junior, Janaína Paschoal and Hélio Bicudo. He criticized the presence of the petitioners at a hearing of the impeachment committee, arguing that the case for impeachment should speak for itself.
According to José Eduardo Cardozo, Jovair Arantes has not answered the preliminary defense argument that the impeachment petition against Rousseff was accepted by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, out of “revenge”, and that this is a procedural defect.
“These questions should have been answered by the rapporteur—How is that not abuse of power? Was that not in revenge? The rapporteur has not even once denied that it was not out of revenge; he merely said that [the case] had been considered by the court, which is not true. The report has completely ignored a very straightforward accusation that this case is simply illegal, it has also failed to explain how the circumstances around the opening of the proceeding do not constitute a misuse of power,” he said.
For Cardozo, the impeachment committee should have excluded irrelevant facts from the case, such as a plea bargaining statement given by Senator Delcídio do Amaral and allegations about events taking place before Rousseff's current term began in 2015. In his interpretation, that was when the defense's time frame to present a defense should have begun, and the committee members should have been warned about the “defects” underlying these extraneous points.
“The rapporteur has deplorably ignored that problem, in a serious violation of the principle of due process. In the preliminary [arguments], not only has the rapporteur not addressed the questions, but he actually made matters even worse because he prejudiced the right to defense and distorted the spirit of the case,” he said.
Cardozo reiterated part of the defense arguments he had presented to the impeachment committee that the budget revisions made by Rousseff had no implications for the fiscal target, that none of Rousseff's actions constitute impeachable offenses, and that there was nothing illegal about the decrees she passed. “How can one insist on such an elementary mistake as this? I have only one explanation: they want a [particular] conclusion to be drawn, in spite of the [legal] concepts. They want to come up with an [impeachable] offense at all costs, when there is none.”
Like he had said in his arguments on Monday (4), the Attorney-General reiterated that even if there had been issues with the budget amendments, Rousseff would not have been personally culpable because she based herself on reports from technical bodies, complied with requests from other government branches, and followed the recommendations of courts of audit.
“What impeachable offenses are we talking about? What violations of the Constitution are we talking about? The rapporteur can't answer that question. He makes his points with a lot of words, but little substance. There are gross mistakes from a financial law perspective, with all due respect for the rapporteur,” he said.
Translated by Mayra Borges
Fonte: Agência Brasil.