On July 18, 2022, 2 ½ months before Brazil’s elections, then-President Jair Bolsonaro called over 100 foreign officials and ambassadors to a meeting in his official residence, the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia. To the surprise of the guests, who may have thought they were being invited to a party, they were herded into a conference room, and subjected to a long and boring slide show, presented by the President himself, in which detailed claims were made that the Brazil’s electronic voting system, which hasn’t registered a single case of fraud since it was installed during the 1990s, was susceptible to hacking. Bolsonaro made it clear at the event, which was televised and shared on YouTube by TV Brasil, the public television network, that if he were to lose the upcoming election, it would be a sign that the election was stolen by communists.
Carlos Lupi, President of the center-left Democratic Labor Party, which had fielded Ciro Gomes as its presidential candidate that year, immediately filed a complaint with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE for short). A month later, the TSE ordered Bolsonaro and TV Brasil to pull all video from the event offline, based on the fact that no evidence had been produced to support the President’s frivolous claims. Bolsonaro appealed and, on August 30, it was denied,an full investigation was opened up against Jair Bolsonaro and his vice-presidential candidate General Walter Braga Netto for abuse of authority. On Tuesday, June 27, after hearing the arguments from the defense, the 7 Ministers of the TSE began to issue their verdicts in a process that culminated on the 29th and finished today, with the majority vote cast by Minister Carmen Lucia.
The majority opinion concluded that there was enough evidence to conclude that Bolsonaro had violated democratic norms and the principal of electoral isonomia, or equal voting rights for all. Braga Netto was ruled innocent because he did not participate in planning or execution of Bolsonaro’s meeting with the ambassadors.
This verdict means that Jair Bolsonaro is now banned from running for any public office for 8 years, meaning that he will have to set out of the next 2 presidential elections. It also opens the door for two more investigations directly related to the case. The Federal Auditing Court can rule that he misused public funds for personal, electoral benefit and make him pay back the estimated R$12 thousand spent on the event. The Attorney General’s Office can conduct a criminal investigation that could result in a possible jail sentence.
It has not been a good week for Jair Bolsonaro, but his legal problems are only just beginning. This was the 1st of 16 election fraud charges that he is facing in the Superior Electoral Court alone.
This article was originally published on Brian Mier’s substack.