Brazil's president denies spying on judge investigating him

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) - considering charges that Temer's election in 2014 should be annulled because of the role of corruption money - voted 4-3 to acquit the embattled center-right president.

Temer is now in the center of another graft scandal. The case centered on his campaign as running mate to President Rousseff, and if found guilty his presidency, replacing Ms. Rousseff after she was impeached, would have been annulled.

Temer himself still faces another potential corruption case that is likely to loom over his presidency in the next months. Brazil's top electoral court is preparing to vote on a decision that could force Temer from office.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot alleges that Temer agreed to payments of hush money to a former lower house of Congress speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is in prison for corruption.

According to the Brazilian constitution, if there are fewer than two years left in a term, Congress will choose a caretaker president to govern until the next elections, due in 2018.

The trial was the first of its kind in Brazil.

"Temer will stay in office and probably face many demonstrations in the streets", said Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning. Temer's approval rating is hovering around 9 percent and he has a tenuous hold on his ruling coalition. "It's created a precedent in which you can do whatever you like and no one gets punished in the race for the presidency", said Ronaldo Caiado, the leader of the Democratas party in the Senate. Millions of illegal funds were allegedly funneled to the Rousseff-Temer campaign in 2014.

But four other judges voted against him, some saying that the evidence presented was not enough to prove that the illegal money that went to the political parties was used in the campaign. They also clashed over the strength of the original evidence and whether punishments should be doled out when illegal campaign finance was widespread.

Temer took over from Rousseff a year ago after she was impeached for violating budget laws, in what her leftist allies dubbed a coup.

If Rocha Loures reaches a plea bargain, his testimony could further implicate Temer in a scandal that prompted many to call for his resignation. In it, the president appears to condone paying bribes to an imprisoned former lawmaker to keep him from turning state's witness and providing potentially devastating testimony about graft.

Hard to say. Brazilian politics has been in a state of crisis for some time now, in part fuelled by the country's largest-ever corruption investigation.

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