Congressman Hank Johnson

Representing the 4th District of Georgia

Rep. Johnson, Colleagues Ask DOJ for Answers on Brazil Corruption & Persecution of Former President Lula da Silva

August 21, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to explain the scope of its involvement in the tainted and politicized case against Brazil’s former president Lula da Silva, and Brazil’s broad “Lava Jato” (Car Wash) corruption investigation.

Rep. Johnson was joined by 12 colleagues on the letter to Attorney General William Barr: Congress members Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Susan Wild (PA-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jesus H. “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Ro Khanna (CA-17).

“There is strong evidence that Brazil’s former president Lula was the target of a highly political operation involving the current Justice Minister that was intended to keep him off the ballot in last year’s elections, which he almost certainly would have won,” Rep. Johnson said. “We need to be sure that DOJ was not party to this tainted process.”                 

The charges against Lula, which the members note were: “based on weak evidence that prosecutors believed to be insufficient for a conviction,” barred Lula from running in the 2018 presidential elections. Prior to this, Lula had led all major opinion polls by a wide margin; his removal from the race paved the way for far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro to win the election.

Once in office, President Bolsonaro appointed the judge overseeing Lula’s case, Sergio Moro, to be his justice minister. Recent leaked communications among Judge Moro and senior prosecutors “reveal close collaboration” and “reports of collusive actions aimed at building a case against former President Lula,” the members wrote. “These reports appear to confirm that the actions of both Judge Moro and the Lava Jato prosecutors have been motivated by a political agenda that seeks to undermine the electoral prospects of Brazil’s Worker’s Party [Lula’s political party],” they said in the letter.

The leaks have been the subject of a major political scandal in Brazil and for calls for Moro’s resignation.

The full letter is in English and Portuguese below.

 

August 20, 2019

Attorney General William P. Barr

The Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

Dear Attorney General Barr,

We write to you today because we are concerned about the Department of Justice’s involvement in recent Brazilian judicial proceedings that have generated significant controversy and could destabilize the country’s democracy.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has always played an important role in fighting transnational crime, strengthening and modernizing judicial systems around the globe. Through trainings, technical assistance, and information sharing, the DOJ has helped make foreign law enforcement programs more effective, transparent, and accountable to ordinary citizens.

While we recognize DOJ’s integral work with international judicial systems, we do want to ensure that DOJ’s activities in Brazil haven’t abetted any form of misconduct on the part of Brazilian judicial agents or supported judicial proceedings that violate basic legal ethics and standards. We would like to address a few questions to you and your staff.

DOJ agents reportedly provided support to prosecutors involved in the Lava Jato, or “Car Wash”, anti-corruption operation launched in March of 2014. Although this operation exposed a vast corruption scheme involving numerous Brazilian politicians and private sector actors, there are a number of significant indications that irregularities and bias have corrupted the operation.

We are particularly disturbed by recent media reports regarding leaked communications that reveal close collaboration between Brazilian federal court Judge Sérgio Moro and senior prosecutors of the Lava Jato operation. Most concerning are reports of collusive actions aimed at building a case against former President Lula, based on weak evidence that prosecutors believed to be insufficient for a conviction. These reports appear to confirm that the actions of both Judge Moro and the Lava Jato prosecutors have been motivated by a political agenda that seeks to undermine the electoral prospects of Brazil’s Worker’s Party. 

Strategic collaborations between judges and prosecutors in politically charged judicial activities are, at the very least, flagrant violations of basic judicial ethics. At worst, they are a tragic erosion of democracy. Judge Moro convicted former President Lula to a nearly 10-year prison sentence based on unsubstantiated corruption charges. He is currently serving time and was prevented from running in last year’s presidential election—even though he was the leading candidate in the polls. It should be of significant concern to DOJ that the former president was not granted an impartial trial. It is also concerning that the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, appointed Judge Moro to Minister of Justice ¬- a move that many observers saw as an expression of gratitude for helping Bolsonaro win the elections by keeping Lula off the ballot.

While we are generally reluctant to meddle with judicial proceedings in other countries, these proceedings become our concern the moment our government provides support to them, whether directly or indirectly. Therefore, we would appreciate a prompt response to the following queries:

•          What criteria must be met for DOJ to support any particular set of judicial agents or investigations in Brazil and other countries? 

o          Do DOJ agents ensure that certain legal standards are met by the foreign judicial agents and entities with which they work, and if so, what are they?

•          Describe the involvement of DOJ in the Lava Jato operation.  What led DOJ to work on these particular investigations?

o          What forms of support did DOJ provide, or is DOJ still providing, to Brazilian judicial agents involved in the operation? 

•          Has DOJ supported the investigation of Brazilian and international financial institutions involved in the Lava Jato investigations?  What explanation is there for the fact that few, if any, executives from financial institutions have been prosecuted during the Lava Jato operation, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars of illicit gains that have reportedly been laundered?

•          Describe the full extent of DOJ’s engagement with Judge Sergio Moro, including all technical support, information sharing, and any support provided by DOJ contractors.

•          Describe the full extent of DOJ’s engagement with prosecutors and all other judicial personnel involved in the Lava Jato Task Force, including all technical support, information sharing, and any support provided by DOJ contractors.

•          Were DOJ agents aware of collusive actions involving Judge Moro and Lava Jato prosecutors, or of any other instances of unethical conduct by these individuals?

•          Did DOJ agents or contractors continue engaging with Judge Moro following clear instances of his misconduct, such as the illegal wiretapping of a private conversation between former President Lula with then President Dilma Rousseff in early 2016?

•          Did DOJ provide assistance with the collection or analysis of evidence compiled by the Lava Jato Task Force and Judge Moro for President Lula’s case?

•          Did DOJ agents ever engage with Judge Moro, his staff, or with personnel involved with the Lava Jato Task Force through unofficial channels?

Thank you for your careful attention to this matter. We respectfully request a response by September 30, 2019.

Sincerely,

______________________________

HENRY C. “HANK” JOHNSON, JR.

Member of Congress

______________________________                                    ______________________________

RAÚL GRIJALVA                                                                       SUSAN WILD

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

______________________________                                    ______________________________

JARED HUFFMAN                                                                    ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

______________________________                                    ______________________________

ADRIANO ESPAILLAT                                                   VERONICA ESCOBAR

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

______________________________                                    ______________________________

DEB HAALAND                                                             MARK POCAN

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

______________________________                                    ______________________________

ILHAN OMAR                                                              JESÚS G. “CHUY” GARCÍA

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

______________________________                                    ______________________________

EMANUEL CLEAVER, II                                                RO KHANNA

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

20 de agosto de 2019

Procurador Geral William P. Barr

Departamento de Justiça

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

Senhor Procurador Geral Barr,

Dirigimo-nos ao senhor para expressar nossa preocupação com o envolvimento do Departamento de Justiça em recentes processos judiciais no Brasil, os quais geraram significativa controvérsia e poderiam desestabilizar a democracia do país.

O Departamento de Justiça (DOJ) sempre desempenhou um papel importante no combate ao crime transnacional, fortalecendo e modernizando sistemas judiciais em todo o mundo. Por meio de treinamentos, assistência técnica e compartilhamento de informações, o DOJ ajudou programas estrangeiros de aplicação da lei a se tornarem mais eficazes, transparentes e responsáveis perante os cidadãos comuns.

Embora reconheçamos o trabalho integral do DOJ com os sistemas judiciais internacionais, queremos garantir que as atividades do DOJ no Brasil não incitem nenhuma forma de má conduta por parte de agentes judiciais brasileiros, nem apoiem processos judiciais que violem a ética e os padrões legais básicos. Assim, gostaríamos de fazer algumas perguntas para o senhor e sua equipe.

Os agentes do DOJ supostamente forneceram apoio aos promotores envolvidos na Lava Jato, operação de combate à corrupção lançada em março de 2014. Embora esta operação tenha exposto um vasto esquema de corrupção envolvendo inúmeros políticos brasileiros e atores do setor privado, há uma série de indicações significativas de que irregularidades e ação tendenciosas corromperam a operação.

Estamos particularmente preocupados com os recentes relatos da mídia sobre comunicações vazadas que revelam uma estreita colaboração entre o juiz federal Sérgio Moro e os promotores da Operação Lava Jato. Ainda mais preocupantes são os relatos de ações de conluio destinadas a construir um processo contra o ex-presidente Lula, baseado em evidências tão fracas que os próprios promotores julgavam insuficientes para uma condenação. Esses relatos parecem confirmar que as ações tanto do juiz Moro quanto dos promotores da Jato Lava foram motivadas por uma agenda política que busca minar as perspectivas eleitorais do Partido dos Trabalhadores do Brasil.

Colaborações estratégicas entre juízes e promotores em atividades judiciais com caráter político são, no mínimo, flagrantes violações da ética judicial básica. Na pior das hipóteses, elas são uma erosão trágica da democracia. O juiz Moro condenou o ex-presidente Lula a uma sentença de quase dez anos de prisão, baseada em acusações de corrupção infundadas. Lula está atualmente cumprindo pena e foi impedido de concorrer às eleições presidenciais do ano passado - embora fosse o principal candidato nas pesquisas. Deve ser uma preocupação significativa para o DOJ que o ex-presidente não tenha recebido um julgamento imparcial. É também preocupante que o atual presidente, Jair Bolsonaro, tenha nomeado o juiz Moro para o cargo de Ministro da Justiça - um movimento que muitos observadores viram como uma expressão de gratidão por ajudar Bolsonaro a vencer as eleições, mantendo Lula fora das urnas.

Embora geralmente relutemos em interferir em processos judiciais em outros países, esses procedimentos tornam-se nossa preocupação no momento em que nosso governo lhes fornece apoio, seja direta ou indiretamente. Portanto, gostaríamos de receber prontamente uma resposta para as seguintes consultas:

  • Quais critérios devem ser atendidos para o DOJ apoiar algum conjunto particular de agentes judiciais ou investigações no Brasil e em outros países?
    • Os agentes do DOJ garantem que certos padrões legais sejam cumpridos pelos agentes judiciais e entidades estrangeiras com as quais trabalham e, em caso afirmativo, quais são eles?
  • Descreva o envolvimento do DOJ na operação Lava Jato. O que levou o DOJ a trabalhar nessas investigações em particular?
    • Quais formas de apoio o DOJ forneceu, ou ainda está fornecendo, aos agentes judiciais brasileiros envolvidos na operação?
  • O DOJ apoiou a investigação de instituições financeiras brasileiras e internacionais envolvidas nas investigações da Lava Jato? Que explicação existe para o fato de que poucos, se é que algum, executivos de instituições financeiras foram processados durante a operação Lava Jato, apesar das centenas de milhões de dólares em ganhos ilícitos que supostamente foram lavados?
  • Descreva toda a extensão do envolvimento do DOJ com o juiz Sérgio Moro, incluindo todo o suporte técnico, compartilhamento de informações e qualquer apoio fornecido pelos prestadores de serviços do DOJ.
  • Descreva a extensão total do envolvimento do DOJ com os promotores e todos os outros funcionários judiciais envolvidos na Força-Tarefa da Lava Jato, incluindo todo o suporte técnico, compartilhamento de informações e qualquer suporte fornecido pelos prestadores de serviços do DOJ.
  • Os agentes do Departamento de Justiça estavam cientes das ações de conluio envolvendo o juiz Moro e promotores da Lava Jato, ou de quaisquer outros casos de conduta antiética por parte desses indivíduos?
  • Os agentes ou prestadores de serviços do DOJ continuaram seu envolvimento com o juiz Moro após casos claros de má conduta, como a interceptação ilegal de uma conversa particular entre o ex-presidente Lula e a então presidenta Dilma Rousseff no início de 2016?
  • O DOJ prestou assistência na coleta ou análise de evidências compiladas pela Força-Tarefa da Lava Jato e pelo juiz Moro para o caso do Presidente Lula?
  • Os agentes do DOJ já se envolveram com o juiz Moro, sua equipe ou com o pessoal envolvido com a Força-Tarefa da Lava Jato por meio de canais não oficiais?

Obrigado por sua atenção meticulosa a este assunto. Solicitamos respeitosamente uma resposta até 30 de setembro de 2019.

Atenciosamente,

______________________________

HENRY C. “HANK” JOHNSON, JR.

Membro do Congresso

______________________________                                    ______________________________

RAÚL GRIJALVA                                                            SUSAN WILD

Membro do Congresso                                               Membro do Congresso

______________________________                                    ______________________________

JARED HUFFMAN                                            ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

Membro do Congresso                                               Membro do Congresso

______________________________                                    ______________________________

ADRIANO ESPAILLAT                                       VERONICA ESCOBAR

Membro do Congresso                                               Membro do Congresso

______________________________                                   ______________________________

DEB HAALAND                                                 MARK POCAN

Membro do Congresso                                               Membro do Congresso

______________________________                                    ______________________________

ILHAN OMAR                                                  JESÚS G. “CHUY” GARCÍA

Membro do Congresso                                               Membro do Congresso

______________________________                                    ______________________________

EMANUEL CLEAVER, II                                    RO KHANNA

Membro do Congresso                                               Membro do Congresso

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