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World

Brazil Senate Starts Impeachment Trial of President Rousseff

In May, the Senate voted 55-22 to impeach and suspend Rousseff for up to 180 days

Brazil's Senate begins deliberating whether to permanently remove suspended President Dilma Rousseff from office, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, photo: AP/Eraldo Peres
1 year ago

Brazil’s Senate on Thursday began deliberating whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, the final step in a leadership fight that has paralyzed Congress and cast a pall over a nation in the midst of a severe recession.

Brazil's suspended President Dilma Rousseff smiles during a rally in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Brazil’s Senate braces for a final showdown in a trial that could overthrow President Rousseff after months of lengthy proceedings in Congress. She is accused of breaking fiscal laws, in managing the federal budget as her government ran out of resources. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff smiles during a rally in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. Photo: AP/Eraldo Peres

Brazil’s first female president is accused of illegally shifting money between government budgets to mask yawning deficits. Detractors say she did that to shore up support and argue those maneuvers exacerbated the recession in Latin America’s largest economy.

Rousseff denies wrongdoing and says her enemies, including the country’s elite who have fumed about her Workers Party’s lock on power the last 13 years, are conducting a “coup.”

Senators are now embarking “on their most somber duties,” said Ricardo Lewandowski, the chief justice of the country’s highest court who is overseeing the trial. “To judge the president, [senators] must act with the utmost impartiality and objectivity, considering only the facts they are presented and the laws.”

The impeachment push started late last year when Eduard Cunha, then the speaker of the lower House of Deputies and a long-time Rousseff nemesis, introduced the measure. In April, his chamber overwhelmingly passed it. Then in May, the Senate voted 55-22 to impeach and suspend Rousseff for up to 180 days.

Brazil's Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski smiles during the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Senators are now embarking "on their most somber duties," said Lewandowski, who is overseeing the trial. "To judge the president, (senators) must act with the utmost impartiality and objectivity, considering only the facts they are presented and the laws." (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Brazil’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski smiles during the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Photo: AP/Eraldo Peres

Vice President Michel Temer, Rousseff’s one-time ally who turned nemesis, took over. If the Senate votes to permanently remove Rousseff, Temer will serve the rest of her term, which goes through 2018.

Several days of testimony, including an address by Rousseff on Monday, will wrap up in a final vote next week.

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