Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Taps Family Friend as Top Cop amid Probes into Sons
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro named a family friend to head the federal police on Tuesday amid investigations into his sons and just days after his justice minister quit and alleged political meddling in law enforcement.
The government’s official gazette confirmed the appointment of Alexandre Ramagem, a federal police officer who is close to the Bolsonaro family and took charge of the president’s security after he was stabbed on the campaign trail in 2018.
On Friday, responding to Justice Minister Sergio Moro’s allegations, Bolsonaro said he could choose whomever he wanted to lead the police force, saying: “The appointment is mine, the prerogative is mine, and the day I have to submit to one of my subordinates I am no longer the president.”
Moro alleged that Bolsonaro had repeatedly said he wanted a “personal contact” in the job, “from whom he could get information, intelligence reports.” The allegations are being investigated by Brazil’s top public prosecutor.
Ramagem has run the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) since July.
On New Year’s Day last year, the president’s son Carlos Bolsonaro, a Rio de Janeiro city councilman, posted a party photo on social media of him shoulder to shoulder with Ramagem.
A Supreme Court investigation staffed by federal police is looking into Carlos Bolsonaro’s role in disseminating “fake news,” according to newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. His brother, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro, has been accused in a congressional investigation of participating in a “fake news” scheme.
Their eldest brother, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro is being investigated by state prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro over alleged money laundering and misuse of public funds.
All three have denied any wrongdoing. They and the president have decried the probes as politically motivated attacks.
Over the weekend, Bolsonaro took to Facebook to defend Ramagem, after word of his nomination leaked to the press.
“So what? I knew Ramagem before I knew my children. Should he be vetoed for that reason? Whose friend should I pick?” the president said in a post.
In the official gazette on Tuesday, Bolsonaro also appointed André Mendonça as justice minister, replacing Moro.
Mendonça, 47, previously served as solicitor general, and Bolsonaro had said he was under consideration for a nomination to the Supreme Court.
As solicitor general, Mendonça is credited with recovering some 7.5 billion reais ($1.33 billion) via leniency deals from companies accused of corruption in exchange for cooperation with investigations.
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