The defeats of Minister Sergio Moro accumulate in Brasilia, both in Congress and in the Supreme Federal Court (STF). Moro's political weakness resulted in a series of setbacks throughout the week.
Congress took advantage of President Jair Bolsonaro's trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York to inflict two legislative defeats on him. In the first, the deputies decided to remove from the anti-crime package the license to kill known as the “exclusionary of illicit” euphemism. On Monday, in retaliation against the Federal Police operation that struck last week in the office of the government leader in the Senate, the senators overturned almost all Bolsonaro vetoes to the recently passed Authority Abuse Act.
If the first decision reaches a cause dear to the police-military nucleus surrounding Bolsonaro, the second clearly targets Operation Lava Jato. Vetoes of the abuse law were far more important to Moro than to Bolsonaro, who backed them in a telephone conversation with Senate President David Alcolumbre. Bolsonaro tries to reconcile the image of anti-corruption on social networks with the need to protect his son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the target of investigations.
The choice, by default of Moro, of the new Attorney General, Augusto Aras, is clearly related to the ambivalent way Bolsonaro views Lava Jato and the fight against corruption. To the senators who broadly approved of Aras's name yesterday, his speech sounded like a motherly calm. Aras said there were "excesses" in the Lava Jato, that everything could have been done "with less spotlight, less spotlight" if there was someone with a "white head" and spoke of "corrections" to the current task force model.
Lava Jato relies on the PGR for both survival and resources for the task force, as well as for defending its actions against public figures arriving at the STF. It is the Supreme who will ultimately make the most relevant decisions for the future of the operation. There the climate is also unfavorable to Moro.
One of these rulings began to be judged yesterday in plenary and could have repercussions on more than 30 of Lava Jato's nearly 150 sentences. This is the annulment of the sentence against the former president of Banco do Brasil and Petrobras Aldemir Bendine, convicted of asking for bribes from Odebrecht. Moro's sentence was overturned by the Second Panel of the STF, due to a procedural failure in the order of the defense's final allegations.
Supreme Lava Jato's rapporteur, Minister Edson Fachin, voted to uphold the sentence, but the composition of the plenary suggests that it is unlikely to resist. The question is to what extent the new ruling will affect Lava Jato's other rulings, especially that affecting former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the case of the Atibaia site.
Other decisions that depend on the Supreme Court involve the time of execution of the prison sentences (today applied shortly after the decision of the second instance of the judiciary), Moro's suspicion in the case against Lula and, in the case most relevant to Bolsonaro, the injunction that suspended all investigations initiated from IRS reports issued without court order.
In both the Supreme and Congress, Moro's strength is reduced. In Congress, the vision of his boss has prevailed, for whom the fight against corruption is more an article of electoral convenience than a policy to be applied in practice. In the Supreme Court, the influence of the large law firms and the Guaranty wing has found effective legal ways to undo what Moro did as a judge. The costumes of minister and politician have not suited him well.