Brazil’s top court rejects leader’s complaint against judge

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro rides a jet ski during a boat rally in his support, in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
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Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a complaint filed by President Jair Bolsonaro in which he accused a justice of abusing his authority, marking the latest escalation of confrontations between the far-right leader and the top court.

Bolsonaro filed a complaint on Monday targeting Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who is overseeing an investigation to determine whether some of Bolsonaro’s most ardent allies are running a social media network aimed at spreading threats and fake news against Supreme Court justices.

In his complaint, Bolsonaro accused de Moraes of slow-walking the fake news inquiry and hurting his image in an electoral year.

Supreme Court Justice Dias Toffoli denied the request, arguing that the facts described “do not bring evidence, even minimal,” of a crime.

The complaint has broader political context as well: De Moraes will preside over the nation’s electoral authority in the upcoming election, when Bolsonaro will seek a second term, and the president has repeatedly raised questions about whether the vote will be fair.

Bolsonaro began showing animosity to the Supreme Court with the opening of the so-called fake news investigation in 2019. He has been openly feuding with the court since early in the pandemic, when justices ruled that mayors and governors have jurisdiction to determine restrictions to slow the virus’s spread;

Bolsonaro was a fierce opponent of lockdowns and other restrictions. Last year, he requested the Senate move to impeach de Moraes and threatened to disregard any of the justice’s rulings.

“Either the (fake news) inquiry is being unjustifiably extended to the detriment of those being investigated, since after more than thirty-six months there is not even a partial report of the investigations. Or, there are partial reports and justifications for proceeding with the inquiry that are being hidden from the defense (attorneys),” the complaint stated.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer also questioned the justification for including the president as a target of the investigation. Bolsonaro was included after organizing a live broadcast on social media in which he contested the reliability of electronic voting machines. He has repeatedly sown doubt about the voting system, though never presented any evidence of fraud.