Bolsonaro “anxious” about testimony of embattled whip

Bolsonaro barros whip deposition
President Bolsonaro during a live broadcast on social media. Photo: Facebook/@Jair Bolsonaro

The Covid hearings committee will question Congressman Ricardo Barros today. The government’s House whip is suspected of peddling influence to expedite a Health Ministry contract to purchase 20 million doses of the Indian-made Covaxin vaccine, a deal laden with irregularities. Speaking to reporters this morning, President Jair Bolsonaro said he is “anxious” about today’s session.

The Covaxin scandal is one of the most compromising corruption scandals involving the government: it shows people close to Mr. Bolsonaro attempted to profit from corrupt deals while the coronavirus was killing Brazilians by the thousands each day.

The president will find himself in a conundrum should Mr. Barros botch his deposition. Mr. Barros is a prominent member of the Progressives (PP) party, a political grouping that has seized the reins of the government — it holds the chief of staff, leads the House, and serves as the administration’s political guarantors. Many believe Mr. Barros’s position as government whip is untenable, but ditching him could compromise Mr. Bolsonaro’s political support.