A Brazilian politician has claimed that both he and Jair Bolsonaro attended a December meeting in which an ally of the then-president outlined a plot to keep him in power following his defeat in the October elections.
Senator Marcos do Val, a 51-year-old conservative affiliated with the center-right Podemos party, recounted the alleged conspiratorial gathering at a press conference on Thursday.
At the Dec. 9 meeting, Do Val said, a fellow lawmaker named Daniel Silveira had attempted to “coerce” him into aiding in the scheme, asking if he would trick a Supreme Court justice into making compromising comments in a recorded conversation. The aim, Silveira allegedly said, was to secure the arrest of the justice, Alexandre de Moraes—who also oversees the country’s top electoral authority.
Bolsonaro “sat in silence” as Silveira explained the plan, Do Val explained, according to a translation by Reuters.
A onetime staunch supporter of Bolsonaro’s government, Do Val said after initially airing his allegations on Instagram Live on Wednesday night that he planned to “definitively” leave politics, The Guardian reported. He was elected to an eight-year term as a senator in 2018.
Earlier on Thursday, Silveira was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on a warrant issued by De Moraes. The justice accused Silveira of disobeying court orders and “complete disrespect and mockery” of the judiciary. Silveira, 40, is a former military police officer who has spent time in prison for threatening electoral officials and Federal Supreme Court ministers.
De Moraes also ordered Do Val to provide testimony to federal police within the next five days as part of a probe into the alleged coup attempt, according to Reuters.
Do Val’s press conference was held just days after it was reported that Bolsonaro, 67, had filed an application for a six-month visitor visa to remain in the U.S. The former Brazilian president has been living in Florida at the home of a former mixed martial arts star since shortly after his electoral loss last year.
“He would like to take some time off, clear his head, and enjoy being a tourist in the United States for a few months before deciding what his next step will be,” Felipe Alexandre, his immigration attorney, said in a statement.
His detractors were quick to criticize this move as a sign of cowardice, particularly as authorities back in Brazil continue to probe the former president’s possible role in an attack on Brasilia’s capital buildings by supporters early last month. “You’re running away, huh?” tweeted Rogério Correia, a member of the governing leftist Workers’ Party.
Bolsonaro decamped to Florida on Dec. 30, two days before his rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, assumed presidential office. He is believed to have entered the United States on an A-1 visa, the classification reserved for heads of state and diplomats. His visa would have expired on Tuesday—30 days after the end of his presidential term.