Michel Temer: Brazil president 'won't quit' over bribe claim

Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday authorized an investigation into President Michel Temer and allegations that he condoned bribery of a potential witness in the massive "Car Wash" graft probe.

A mock coffin with a photo of Brazil's President Michel Temer is lit by candles during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

A local newspaper reported that he allegedly approved hush money for Eduardo Cunha, the former house speaker and mastermind behind last year's impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

Temer's announcement caps a dramatic 24-hour period that included police searches at Brazil's Congress and the top electoral court, spontaneous protests in the country's main cities.

The Supreme Federal Tribunal has opened an investigation into the accusation against Temer and lifted the seal on the recording.

Leaders of Temer's biggest allied party in Congress, the PSDB, said that if the allegations proved true, they would demand the resignation of three of their members who are in the president's cabinet.

Rousseff was impeached previous year for breaking budgetary laws, but she and her supporters have accused Temer, her vice president, of orchestrating her ouster as part of a soft "coup" meant to halt the Car Wash investigation.

"I repeat: I will not resign", he said, speaking in Brasilia.

In a brief statement, Temer said his government had just started pulling Brazil out of its prolonged economic slump, the worst in 80 years.

Senator Randolfe Rodrigues from the opposition Rede party promised demonstrations until Temer quits.

During the discussion, Batista could be heard saying, "I'm under investigation but haven't been condemned".

O Globo reported that Batista, his brother Wesley and five JBS employees testified as part of a plea bargain.

At the congressional meeting, Temer told lawmakers that he was a victim of a "conspiracy" at the very moment when his government was having some success, according to Senator Sérgio Petecão.

The Supreme Court suspended Neves. Neves has already been removed from his post, and his sister has been arrested, according to O Globo.

Mr Neves is being investigated in several corruption cases related to the "Car Wash" probe into kickbacks to politicians.

Temer's comments came in response to a damning recording implicating him and other politicians in a corruption scheme that has served the heaviest blow to the scandal-plagued administration yet.

Even before the latest crisis, Temer was mired in controversy.

Until now Temer has managed to stay above the fray, enjoying presidential immunity for alleged crimes prior to his mandate.

Rousseff was impeached previous year for breaking budgetary laws, but she and her supporters have accused Temer, her vice president, of orchestrating her ouster as part of a soft "coup" meant to halt the Car Wash investigation.

If Temer resigns or is impeached, Brazil's constitution calls for the lower house leader to temporarily take over and for Congress to name a successor within 30 days. I have a contact within the task force who's also providing me with information.