Brazilian lawmakers have voted against suspending President Michel Temer and rejected the push to put him on trial for corruption. Temer had been accused of leading a "criminal organization" which he denied as "absurd."
Temer survived the key vote in lower chamber of the Brazilian Congress on Wednesday, marking a second such victory within three months. In a separate vote in August, lawmakers also refused to put him on trial for bribery charges.
On Wednesday, 251 deputies sided with the president, with 231 voting to put him on trial. The outcome means Temer will not be suspended and will not go before the Supreme Court to answer on graft charges put forward by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, who claims Temer had "acted as a leader of a criminal organization." Janot also charged Temer with obstruction of justice and paying hush money to a former parliamentary speaker. The politician has rejected the accusations as "absurd."
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"This accusation is fragile, inept and worse than the first one," legislator Celso Russomanno said while casting his vote in favor of Temer on Wednesday.
Brazil is still grappling with the massive "Car Wash" corruption scandal which reached the country's top politicians and businessman, and involved the giant oil company Petrobras. According to the prosecutors, the popular ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva was also involved in the scheme during his time in office.
Claims of vote buying
In Brazil, a two-thirds majority of lawmakers must vote to lift the immunity of the sitting president, allowing him to be trialed before the Supreme Court. Critics accuse Temer buying votes by using budget funds to set up projects in the constituencies of Congress members.
While the Congress ruled against putting Temer on trial, the 77-year-old leader might face judges after his term ends in late 2018. Temer took office last year after his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was suspended in a Congress vote.
Temer enjoys large support among lawmakers, despite his abysmal popularity ratings. Only three percent of voters consider his government "good" or "very good," according to the latest opinion poll in September.
Ahead of the vote, Temer was briefly hospitalized over a urinary tract obstruction.
dj/xx (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)