Back at the House of Cards – Brazil’s ousted House speaker flexes muscle, faces ethics panel

Brazil’s suspended House speaker, Eduardo Cunha, defended himself before an ethics committee on Thursday, a day after the appointment of his ally as leader of the government coalition in the chamber showed the veteran lawmaker’s enduring political sway.

The Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Eduardo Cunha this month on charges of obstructing a corruption investigation, just weeks after he orchestrated the approval of impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff in the lower house. The Senate voted last week to suspend Rousseff and put her on trial for breaking budget rules.

Yet Cunha’s continued support from an array of minor parties and his command of obscure parliamentary rules still make him a power broker in Brazil’s fragmented Congress, and forced interim President Michel Temer to accept his ally as coalition leader.

Temer preferred a consensus candidate, but accepted Cunha ally Andre Moura on Wednesday when it became clear that 13 second-tier parties with 225 lawmakers had closed ranks behind him, according to two presidential aides who asked not to be named.

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