Members of Covid’s CPI say they believe that Minister Rosa Weber’s decision to authorize the governor of Amazonas, Wilson Lima (PSC), not to testify in the commission could have a ripple effect.
The magistrate of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) stated that the rule only applies to managers who respond to the investigation in court, since the current jurisprudence of the court establishes that no one can be forced to produce evidence against himself.
As the CPI had approved the summons only for governors who were the target of a police operation, the assessment is that the precedent with Wilson Lima can be extended to the others, barring all hearings from those responsible for state executives.
Thus, the strategy of government senators to broaden the focus of investigations to share with governors the strain generated on President Jair Bolsonaro by the commission’s work is at risk of being undermined.
The governor of Amazonas would testify to the CPI this Thursday (10), but failed to appear after the decision taken hours earlier by Rosa Weber.
Congressmen had already approved summoning requirements for seven other state managers: Helder Barbalho (MDB-PA), Wellington Dias (PT-PI), Ibaneis Rocha (MDB-DF), Mauro Carlesse (PSL-TO), Carlos Moisés (PSL) -SC), Antônio Denarium (without party-RR) and Waldez Góes (PDT-AP).
In the decision on Lima, Rosa Weber stated that the action signed by 19 governors for the Supreme Court to prohibit the possibility of being summoned to a Congressional CPI will still be debated and that it is in this process that the court will establish a general understanding on the subject. The trial, however, still has no date to take place.
Meanwhile, if the senators keep calling the other seven governors and if they trigger the STF, the situations must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, but the tendency is that they also get authorization to not appear on the commission.
This is because, as the rapporteur of the action that deals with the subject, the minister should also be responsible for any requests from other state managers that ask the STF not to testify at the CPI.
By releasing Lima not to appear at the commission, the magistrate made it clear that she was dealing only with the specific case of an investigated person who can exercise his right not to incriminate himself.
In an opinion sent to the Supreme on Thursday, the Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, manifested himself in favor of the summoning of governors by the CPI.
In Aras’s view, the Constitution only prohibits the summoning of the President of the Republic. As there is no mention of governors in this section of the Charter, the rule does not apply to them in the case of CPI in Congress. This forecast would only be valid for a commission of inquiry in the Legislative Assemblies, in the Attorney General’s view.
“It is true that the rule in article 50 of the Federal Constitution is mandatory for reproduction in state constitutions. Thus, state governors cannot be called to testify before the respective Legislative Assemblies”, he emphasized.
And he added: “The principle of symmetry cannot be invoked to extract from the Federal Constitution a rule that provides for the relationship between the Legislative Power of the Union and the Executive Powers of the states and the Federal District”.
Right at the opening of the session this Thursday, the president of the CPI, senator Omar Aziz (PSD-AM), stated that he would appeal the decision.
“The Senate will appeal the decision. We respect the decision of Minister Rosa Weber, as we have respected all the other decisions filed here against this parliamentary commission of inquiry,” he said.
“But I believe that the governor of the state of Amazonas misses a unique opportunity to clarify to Brazil, but mainly to the people of Amazonas, what, in fact, happened in the state of Amazonas,” he said.
The decision to appeal was welcomed by several senators, mainly by the government, who intend to focus the investigation on federal transfers to states and municipalities.
The CPI was proposed in the Senate, targeting the Bolsonaro government’s failures and omissions in managing Covid, but it ended up later incorporating the proposal of the president’s allies to also deal with the funds transferred to local managers.
For the top of the CPI, Rosa Weber’s decision prevents the commission from shifting the initial focus of the investigation to the governors and taking the pressure off the federal government.
Since the summons were approved by the collegiate, congressmen had been hoping for the court to release state administrators from attending.
The only testimony considered essential by senators is that of former Rio de Janeiro governor Wilson Witzel. This is because there is an assessment that he could compromise Bolsonaro.
Regarding the departure of other Chief Executives, senators say that it will be up to each one to make the decision because Rosa Weber opened that possibility in the determination this Wednesday. So it would not be necessary to transform calls into invitations, as they wanted senators to attend the collegiate.
Congressmen were irritated, however, that the STF minister’s decision was taken at the last minute and did not allow them time to schedule another testimony instead.
Senator Humberto Costa (PT-PE), one of the main voices of the majority group of the CPI, formed by independents and oppositionists, considered that Rosa Weber’s decision makes room for other governors to use this precedent so as not to appear to testify.
“I believe so, the possibility of us having a denial from the Supreme in relation to these invitations [aos demais governadores] it’s big. That precedent already exists,” said the senator, referring to the decision in favor of former Goiás governor Marconi Perillo, in 2012.
The PT senator, on the other hand, said he believes that there needs to be guidance from the STF for investigations regarding federal transfers, since the summoning of governors may be unfeasible.
“Somehow, this issue needs to be addressed. The Constitution says that you can inspect the application of resources via the CPI, for everything that concerns the federal government. If in a case of denunciation of embezzlement of federal resources, it is not possible listen to the governor, then you have to know who we can listen to,” he said.
By authorizing Lima not to appear at the CPI, Rosa Weber stated that this understanding is consistent with the court’s jurisprudence.
“This Supreme Court, in the seat of abstract normative control, has adopted an understanding in the sense that the investigated and the defendants are not obliged to appear for the interrogation, whether police or judicial.”
The minister’s view on the subject, however, is not unanimous in the court.
On May 14, for example, Minister Ricardo Lewandowski only partially granted a habeas corpus to former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello.
The magistrate guaranteed Pazuello the right to remain silent, but made the reservation that he would have to respond to facts that did not lead to his incrimination.
Helder Barbalho (PA) 29.jun
Wellington Dias (PI) 30.jun
Ibaneis Rocha (DF) 1º.jul
Mauro Carlesse (TO) 2.jul
Carlos Moisés (SC) 6.jul
Anthony Penny (RR) 7.jul
Waldez Góes (AP)8.jul