For 36 minutes last night, three lawyers and former Communications Secretary Fábio Wajngarten (also a lawyer) explained to the press explanations about the use of cash to pay Michelle Bolsonaro’s bills when she was still first lady. The press conference was motivated by articles by journalist Aguirre Talento, published on UOL, which revealed data contained in an investigation by the Federal Police.
Wajngarten, who has become Jair Bolsonaro’s spokesperson since he left the presidency, explained that the former president’s personal corporate card was never used; that family expenses with small suppliers were paid in cash with money from their personal account (the justification for this expedient was the preservation of security); that Michelle used a friend’s credit card to make purchases because Bolsonaro is “cheap” and that, in general, the amounts paid in this way were derisory.
On the occasion, the former secretary also admitted that Bolsonaro opened an account abroad, but explained the fact as a precaution by the former president, who was betting on a worsening of the country’s economy and thus imagined he was protecting his savings (around R$ 600 thousand).
However, of the time spent explaining the unusual way of paying expenses used by the Bolsonaro clan, a negligible part was used to deal with the most serious complaint.
According to the Federal Police, a company with public contracts in the previous management made a series of transfers in the amount of R$ 25,360 to a military member of the Presidency of the Republic’s Orders Assistance, Second Sergeant Luis Marcos dos Reis. After withdrawing the money, Reis paid expenses on the credit card used by Michelle Bolsonaro on at least three occasions.
In addition, the military made at least 12 cash deposits into the account of an aunt of the then first lady.
The company that generously paid for Michelle’s friend’s bills is Cedro do Libano Trade in Woods and Building Materials, hired by Codevasf (Companhia de Desenvolvimento dos Vales do São Francisco e do Parnaíba) – a well-known nest of corruption scandals, dominated by Centrão.
In short: investigations point out that a company hired by the federal government paid bills for the former first lady.
To this denunciation, the most serious of all, Wajngarten devoted very little time. The first time he was asked about this, the former secretary spoke as if Second Sergeant Luis Marcos dos Reis had acted on his own accord.
“We are in defense of [ex] President. I don’t know who that person is, I’ve never lived with him, neither has the president,” said Wajngarten, to then lay yet another responsibility on the back of Bolsonaro’s former assistant, who is now in prison: “The chain of hierarchy was the president and Lieutenant Colonel Mauro Cid”.
The second time he was asked about sending money from a company to pay the first lady’s expenses, Wajngarten again dodged the subject. “There is no relationship, no deposit from any company to President Jair Bolsonaro’s account,” he said.
This is a sophistry, a half-truth.
The Federal Police does not claim that there is a deposit from the company in Bolsonaro’s account, but rather that Cedro do Libano sent money to the sergeant of the Presidency’s Orders Assistance and this, in turn, paid Michelle’s bills.
With this play on words, Bolsonaro’s defense once again casts the weight of suspicion on one of his assistants. This has happened several times over the last few years.
The expedient can serve to satisfy more fanatical supporters, who generally settle for little.
It will not be useful, however, to convince the PF that the deposit of the company contracted by the federal government that was used to pay Michelle’s bills is something republican, with which Bolsonaro had no relationship.
Facing the authorities, Fábio Wajngarten and the lawyers will have to work harder.
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