Brazil's Temer loses another aide as pressure mounts

All government ministries in Brasilia were emptied amid huge protests on Wednesday, which apparently included setting on fire a pair of ministry buildings.

Tension in Brazil has risen sharply over the past week, after news broke that the Supreme Court authorized an investigation into the president over allegations of passive corruption and obstruction of justice. Lula, a founder of the Workers Party (PT) that controlled Brazil's presidency from 2003 until a year ago, is already facing five separate trials on corruption charges with a ruling in the first expected by July. JBS executives Joesley and Wesley Batista have admitted to bribing politicians in a case that has sparked calls for the resignation of Brazilian President Michel Temer.

President Michel Temer ordered federal troops to restore order, and black smoke could be seen billowing around the government grounds as protesters ran from police, who were on foot and on horseback.

And in an unrelated case that underlined the far-reaching impact of Brazil's ongoing anti-graft operation, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced one of the country's most infamously corrupt and seemingly untouchable politicians to almost eight years in prison. "That's why the people have taken to the streets", said Francisca Gomes, 59, who came from Sao Paulo for the protest and carried a funeral ribbon carrying the image of the president and the words: "RIP Temer".

Temer's lawyers welcomed the court's decision to audit the material, which gives more the president more time to organize his defense.

Now, with the latest allegations against Temer himself, many Brazilians have had enough.

In his interview with Folha, Temer lambasted Batista for allegedly profiteering from the scandal, which sent the Brazilian currency down and put JBS shares into a tailspin.

Near-term uncertainties around President Temer's political viability and the potential for a prolonged or disruptive transition process have heightened downside risk to the rating, S&P said.

Reports say the dmonstrations is the most violent protest in Brasilia since anti-government demonstrations in 2013, as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to Congress on Wednesday to demand Temer step down and protest against economic reforms that he is pushing through.

With Brazil deeply divided and a political crisis deepening, sessions in both houses of Congress became chaotic as lawmakers shouted one another down.

Several lawmakers have submitted requests for Temer's impeachment to Maia, the speaker, and he has angered them by saying he will take his time to review the requests.

If Temer resigns, the Constitution says that Congress would vote to elect the next president, who would hold power through the end of 2018.

While Congress debated a move to impeach the president, 35,000 people were marching towards the chamber down a long avenue lined with the main government buildings, including the Supreme Court, the presidential palace and the ministries.

Associated Press photographer Eraldo Peres reported this story in Brasilia and AP writer Mauricio Savarese reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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