2022 Race

CIA warns Bolsonaro against election shenanigans, says Reuters

CIA U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris swears-in William Burns as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in March 2021. Photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris swears-in William Burns as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in March 2021. Photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House

William Burns, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), told senior Brazilian government officials that President Jair Bolsonaro should stop casting doubt on the country’s voting system, Reuters reported on Thursday. The closed-door meeting reportedly took place in the presidential palace in July of last year.

Mr. Burns met with his Brazilian counterpart Alexandre Ramagem as well as Mr. Bolsonaro and his chief security officer, Augusto Heleno. Mr. Burns also met with then-Chief of Staff Luiz Eduardo Ramos, a former four-star general currently serving as Secretary of Government.

Sources told Reuters that government officials tried to dismiss the significance of Mr. Bolsonaro’s repeated remarks about his distrust in Brazil’s 100-percent electronic voting system. Mr. Burns reportedly responded that “elections were not an issue that they should mess with.” A career diplomat, Mr. Burns was appointed by U.S. President Joe Biden last year and has “been empowered to be a low-profile mouthpiece for the White House.”

Speaking with CNN Brasil last week, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs said the country “has real confidence in Brazil’s electoral system.”

For months, President Jair Bolsonaro has laid the groundwork to challenge October’s election results, should he lose to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. On multiple occasions, the Armed Forces signaled their support for the president’s quest to discredit Brazil’s electronic voting system. 

Researchers from a U.S.-based think tank sent a report to the Biden administration asking the White House to step in and prevent a power grab, as The Brazilian Report showed on the latest episode of the Explaining Brazil podcast.