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New Evidence Emerges of Brazilian President Seeking to Shield Family from Police Probe

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro shakes hands with the new head of the federal police Rolando Alexandre de Souza at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 4, 2020.

A videotape has emerged showing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro telling his Cabinet that he wanted to personally choose the head of the federal police office in Rio de Janeiro to shield his family from investigation.

The videotape was viewed Tuesday by investigators looking into accusations made by former Justice Minister Sergio Moro that the president is trying to interfere in ongoing police investigations.

Sources say Bolsonaro told his Cabinet in the videotape that he wanted to change the leadership of the federal police office because his family is being persecuted.

But hours after the videotape was viewed, the president said that he was instead expressing concern about his family’s safety. Bolsonaro also said there has never been any investigation of his family by the federal police, and that the videotape should have been destroyed.

Rio de Janeiro is Bolsonaro’s hometown and where his two sons are prominent politicians: Flavio, a senator, and Carlos, a Rio city councilman. Both sons are under investigation for various allegations by local prosecutors and police.

Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered an investigation into Moro’s accusations after Moro, a popular anti-corruption crusader, abruptly resigned from Bolsonaro’s cabinet last month after the president fired the federal police chief.

The growing scandal is likely to further damage Bolsonaro’s already sinking approval ratings over his stubborn approach to the coronavirus pandemic, which has soared to over 177,000 confirmed cases, including 12,400 fatalities. The health ministry reported 881 fatalities over a 24 hour period on Tuesday, its deadliest day since the start of the outbreak.