On August 31st, Brazil’s Senate voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, the culmination of a yearlong fight that paralyzed Latin America’s largest nation and exposed deep rifts among its people on everything from race relations to social spending. Vice President Michel Temer was sworn in as the new president that afternoon.
Impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff put a spotlight on corruption among Brazil’s lawmakers – including the three men in line to replace her.
The Rousseff impeachment
The story leading up to Rousseff's impeachment trial is complex and multi-faceted. There are many characters and their roles have changed over time. Scroll down to see a summary and timeline of these events with links to our coverage.
As a part of “Operation Car Wash,” Ms Rousseff's political mentor and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is interrogated by police and his house is raided. Investigators were looking into whether or not he received kickbacks from construction companies working with state owned oil company, Petrobras.
A week following the raid, Rousseff nominates Lula to be her chief of staff. Sergio Moro, the judge assigned to “Operation Car Wash,” releases phone recordings implying Lula’s appointment was motivated to help him avoid arrest.
By the end of the month, as thousand of protesters – for and against Rousseff - have been lining streets of the capital, Brazil’s largest party and key coalition member, the PMDB, pull out of her ruling coalition.
The lower house of Brazil senate votes to move forward with impeachment proceedings and sends the motion forward to the senate; Rousseff accuses her opposition of pursuing a political coup de tat; In a plot twist compared to “House of Cards,” audio evidence suggests Vice-President Michael Termer and Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha have been colluding to overthrow Rousseff and for Cunha to take her place as president.
Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha is removed from office by Brazil’s Supreme Court pending an investigation of corruption and abuse of power. A 21 member Senate committee voted to send the impeachment decision to the upper house. Acting speaker of the house, Waldir Maranhao, annuls the senate vote, but is overridden by Senate Head Renan Calheiros, who tells the Senate to ignore the decision and move forward.
On May 12th, the upper house of the senate voted 55-22 to send Rousseff to impeachment. As a result, Rousseff is required to step down from her presidential duties, for up to 180 days as she is investigated on charges of corruption. At which point, a special committee will commence her trial in the senate. Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer will serve as president in the interim.
The Rio Olympics move forward - without Rousseff; A judge determines the IOC can't restrain free speech in Brazil; An impassioned impeachment trial commences in the senate; Rousseff presents her defense; the senate votes for impeachment and VP Michel Temer is sworn in as Brazil's president.