BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Fighting to save her job, suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told senators on Monday, Aug.29, that the allegations against her have no merit and that history would judge the country if she is removed from office.
“I know I will be judged, but my conscience is clear. I did not commit a crime,” Rousseff told senators at her impeachment trial.
Rousseff reminded senators that she was re-elected in 2014 by 54 million voters. She said that at every moment she has followed the constitution and done what was best for the country.
“I can’t help but taste the bitterness of injustice” of this process, she said.
After her 30-minute speech, Rousseff was to take questions from senators. The showdown will include accusations that the she hurt Brazil’s economy with illegal budget manipulations and defenders arguing that she is being targeted by corrupt lawmakers.
The impeachment process began late last year, when opponents in Congress presented a measure to remove her from office. Her appearance comes a day or two before the Senate votes on whether to oust her from the presidency.
Several hundred supporters demonstrated outside Congress, and cheered when she arrived. Outside Congress, a huge wall was put up to separate Rousseff supporters and pro-impeachment activists.
The Senate voted 55-22 in May to suspend Rousseff from office for up to 180 days while a trial was prepared. Michel Temer, who was her vice president and turned into her nemesis, took over as interim president. If Rousseff is permanently removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term, which goes through 2018.
Rousseff’s address comes on the fourth day of the trial which has seen name-calling, shouting and a declaration by the Senate President Renan Calheiros that “stupidity is limitless.”
In the middle of her second term, the left-leaning leader is accused of breaking fiscal rules to hide problems in the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing and argues that her enemies are carrying out a “coup d’état.”
Opponents claim her maneuvers were an attempt to continue high spending and mask deficits, which ultimately exacerbated a severe recession in Latin America’s largest economy.
According to the official close to Rousseff, she planned remarks that would be “firm, but not arrogant.” The official agreed to discuss the speech only if not quoted by name because he wasn’t authorized to divulge its details.
The trial is being presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.
Peter Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro.
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