NEWS BRIEF The Brazilian Congress that former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha revved up to oust President Dilma Rousseff has now turned against him. At nearly midnight Monday, lawmakers voted to expel Cunha, a move that could lead to a trial against him for his alleged role in a corruption scandal.
The Chamber of Deputies voted 450 to 10 to dismiss Cunha for perjury, corruption, and obstruction of justice. Cunha has been called the “Frank Underwood” of Brazilian politics—a reference to his supposed trove of political secrets he wields like weapons—and he had once dominated the House that turned on him. For the past year, he has been closely watched by investigators amid accusations he stole $1.3 million from the state oil company, Petrobras, and hid it in Swiss bank accounts. Before Monday’s vote, the ethics committee overseeing the investigation reported that strong evidence tied Cunha to those overseas accounts, in which he’s accused of laundering millions.
Cunha, as the Associated Press reported, denied any wrongdoing:
"This was a political process because I kicked off the impeachment proceedings. They wanted a trophy," he said at a news conference.
"The current administration adopted the agenda of removing me from office," he said, adding that he planned to publish a book telling about the behind-the-scenes dealings that led to the impeachment of Rousseff.
The vote to oust Cunha also came with a temporary ban on him holding public office. That’s significant because it takes away legal protections for sitting lawmakers and sets him up to be tried for the allegations of stealing money and lying about his overseas bank account. Cunha has already been indicted on some of these allegations, including money laundering and illegal currency dealing.