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Despite Death Threats, Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out About Exposing Large Corruption Scandal in Brazil

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A political crisis in Brazil is growing in the wake of The Intercept's investigation into a judge who likely aided federal prosecutors in their corruption case against former Brazilian President Luiz Ina'cio Lula da Silva. The Bolsonaro administration announced Monday that Brazilian Justice Minister Se'rgio Moro has been granted a leave of absence from July 15-19 to "deal with personal matters." Leaked cellphone messages among Brazilian law enforcement officials and other data obtained by The Intercept point to an ongoing collaboration between then-Judge Se'rgio Moro and the prosecutors investigating a sweeping corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash.

Lula was considered a favorite in the lead-up to the 2018 presidential election until he was put in jail and forced out of the race on what many say were trumped-up corruption charges. The leaked documents also reveal prosecutors had serious doubts about Lula's guilt. The jailing of Lula helped pave the way for the election of the far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro, who then named Judge Se'rgio Moro to be his justice minister. The news of Moro's leave of absence comes amid increased calls for him to step down after new revelations of Moro's questionable role in Operation Car Wash were published in Brazil's leading conservative magazine, Veja, in partnership with The Intercept.

We speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Greenwald has faced death threats and a possible government investigation due to his reporting on the scandal.

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Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonza'lez.

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JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the growing political crisis in Brazil in the wake of The Intercept's investigation into a judge who likely aided federal prosecutors in their corruption case against former Brazilian President Luiz Ina'cio Lula da Silva.

The Bolsonaro administration announced Monday that Brazilian Justice Minister Se'rgio Moro has been granted a leave of absence from July 15 to 19 to, quote, "deal with personal matters." Leaked cellphone messages among Brazilian law enforcement officials and other data obtained by The Intercept point to an ongoing collaboration between then-Judge Se'rgio Moro and the prosecutors investigating a sweeping corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash.

Lula was considered a favorite in the lead-up to the 2018 presidential election until he was put in jail and forced out of the race on what many say were trumped-up corruption charges. The leaked documents also reveal prosecutors had serious doubts about Lula's guilt. The jailing of Lula helped pave the way for the election of the far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro, who then named Judge Se'rgio Moro to be his justice minister.

AMY GOODMAN: The news of Judge Se'rgio Moro's leave of absence comes amidst increased calls for Moro to step down, after new revelations of irregularities were published in Brazil's leading conservative magazine. The publication, in partnership with The Intercept, released new details into the extent of Moro's corruption. The publication had been one of Moro's chief supporters, but editors say the eight-page cover story, quote, "reveals how Moro abused his judicial function as part of a cabal, commanding the actions of the prosecutors of Car Wash." The publication goes on to say, "The communications analyzed by the Veja reporting team are true and the story shows that the case is even more grave than previously known." The cover shows Moro appearing to place a finger on a scale, with the line, "Exclusive: Justice with His Own Hands: New chats show that Se'rgio Moro committed irregularities, disturbing the scales of justice in favor of the prosecution in the Car Wash investigation."

For more, we go to Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Glenn has faced death threats and a possible government investigation due to his reporting on the scandal.

Glenn, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about these latest revelations and then the threats you face.

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GLENN GREENWALD: So, the latest revelation was, as you noted, this cover story in the largest and most influential newsweekly in Brazil, which is Veja. It's sort of like the Time magazine of Brazil, except that it's center-right or even right-wing. And that's what made that story so significant, was, as the editors themselves admitted -- and they did the story in partnership with us -- they had spent four or five years believing the myth of Se'rgio Moro, that he was this incredibly ethical figure who was combating corruption without regard to ideology or party, and doing so in order to clean up Brazil and strengthen and fortify its democracy. They believed that myth and played a leading role in helping to construct it by repeatedly putting him on their cover. The covers of these weekly magazines are incredibly influential, because people even who don't read political magazines see it. It's on every corner. It's what helped dirty and destroy the reputation of Dilma and Lula, were these magazine covers. And they did the opposite to Se'rgio Moro: They built him into this myth.

And so, these editors, when we began working with them on this archive, and they began reading what we've been reading over the last six weeks or seven weeks since we got this material, were not just shocked, but really angered. They were betrayed that this person, that they had really thought was this ethical, clean judge, committed to principles of democracy, was, in fact, not just on occasion, not just in sporadic and isolated episodes, but continuously corrupt in how he was conducting himself and abusing his power as a judge.

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