EXCLUSIVE: US and Brazilian lawmakers search cooperation on investigation into Brasilia riots
WASHINGTON/BRASILIA, Jan 11 (Reuters) – U.S. and Brazilian lawmakers are exploring ways to work together in an investigation into the violent protests that raged in Brasilia this weekend and are sharing lessons from investigations into the attack on the U.S. Capitol People familiar with the talks said.
The first talks came as more than 70 lawmakers in the two countries signed a joint statement denouncing “anti-democratic” forces trying to use political violence to overthrow recent elections in their countries.
Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday raided Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace, calling for a military coup to reverse October’s elections won by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the recently defunct House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is one of the lawmakers whose office is discussing a collaboration, according to one of the sources.
“I am very proud of the work and the final report of the special committee on January 6th. If (it) serves as a model for similar investigations, I will help in any way I can,” Thompson said in a written statement.
Brazil’s Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco also discussed the idea of such an exchange with the top US diplomat in Brasilia, said another person familiar with the call.
The source close to Pacheco said US embassy chargé d’affaires Douglas Koneff is receptive to the idea of sharing expertise from the investigation into then-President Donald Trump’s supporters who attacked the Capitol in a failed attempt had prevented Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.
Pacheco’s office and the US Embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington had not received any specific inquiries from Brazil regarding the recent violence in Brasilia, but would respond “expeditiously” if and when an inquiry is received.
Separately, a group of 74 federal lawmakers in the United States and Brazil released a joint statement on Wednesday condemning the political violence in Brasilia and Washington that occurred two years and two days apart.
The statement, signed mostly by progressive lawmakers in both countries, was drafted by the Washington-based Brazil Office, a group that promotes bilateral dialogue in defense of human rights and sustainable development.
“It’s no secret that far-right agitators in Brazil and the United States are coordinating their efforts,” they wrote, citing ties between Trump and Bolsonaro associates. “Just as far-right coordinate their efforts to undermine democracy, we must be united in our efforts to protect them.”
The committee’s Jan. 6 final report, released last month, says Trump should be criminally charged with inciting the deadly riot. The report listed 17 specific findings, discussed the legal implications of the actions of the former president and some of his associates, and included criminal referrals from Trump and others to the Justice Department.
reporting from Gram Slattery in Washington, Brad Haynes in Sao Paulo and Maria Carolina Marcello in Brasilia; Editing by Christian Plumb, Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman
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Correspondent in Washington covering campaigns and Congress. Previously posted in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Santiago, Chile and reported extensively across Latin America. Co-winner of the 2021 Reuters Journalist of the Year Award in the business reporting category for a series on corruption and fraud in the oil industry. He was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College.