Brazil's president denies authorizing payments to silence politician

Brazil's President Michel Temer gestures during opening ceremony of the 20th conference of the march in defense of the municipalities in Brasilia

Earlier reports said Brazil's businessmen have provided a tape to the Supreme Court in which Temer allegedly authorizes a bribe to silence former Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha, who had spearheaded the impeachment of ex-President Dilma Rousseff.

The allegation made in a Globo News report represents a potentially significant blow for Temer, whose administration has lurched from one crisis to another since he took office just over a year ago. Cunha was later imprisoned on a 15-year sentence for corruption.

O Globo says it has obtained recordings of a discussion between Mr Temer and an official from the giant meat-packing company JBS.

According to the report, in the conversation, Batista tells Temer he was paying a hefty monthly bribe to jailed former head of the House of Representatives Eduardo Cunha in exchange for Cunha's silence.

Justice Gilmar Mendes, president of the Supreme Electoral Court, known by its Portuguese acronym TSE, announced the trial is expected to start in June after it was suspended at the beginning of April for the defense to prepare new testimony and arguments.

JBS, the world's biggest meatpacker, declined to comment.

According to Batista, Temer appeared to be satisfied with what was said, lowered his voice, and purportedly said: "Look, you've got to keep that up".

"If the recordings are confirmed, Temer would have to defend his mandate on multiple fronts", said political analyst Thomaz Favaro of the consultancy Control Risks, citing the danger of public pressure for Temer's resignation, lawmakers' calls for impeachment and a possible investigation by the nation's top prosecutor.

If the tapes prove to show what O Globo columnist Lauro Jardim has reported in his explosive story, it raises serious questions about Mr. Temer's ability to hold the office until his term ends in late 2018.

Cunha, once a powerful member of Temer's ruling party, has previously said he had compromising information about a host of senior politicians linked to a vast political bribery scandal at state oil firm Petrobras.

Several hundred anti-Temer protesters gathered in Sao Paulo, while in the capital Brasilia motorists honked horns and yelled "Temer out!" "How could Brazil sink so low to have this guy in office when everyone knew that he was not to be trusted?"

Marcelo Odebrecht - once head of one of Brazil's largest construction company, Odebrecht, which has been at the center of the country's massive corruption scandal - had told prosecutors that they contributed much more to Rousseff's campaign than the law allows.

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