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Exclusive-CIA chief told Bolsonaro government not to mess with Brazil election, sources say -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets supporters throughout an illustration “For Freedom and for Brazil”, in Brasilia, Brazil Could 1, 2022. REUTERS/Adriano Machado


By Gabriel Stargardter and Matt Spetalnick

RIO DE JANEIRO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Central Intelligence Company (CIA) director final yr instructed senior Brazilian officers that President Jair Bolsonaro ought to cease casting doubt on his nation’s voting system forward of the October election, sources instructed Reuters.

The beforehand unreported feedback by CIA Director William Burns got here in an intimate, closed-door assembly in July, in keeping with two folks accustomed to the matter, who spoke on situation of anonymity. Burns was, and stays, probably the most senior U.S. official to satisfy in Brasilia with Bolsonaro’s right-wing authorities because the election of U.S. President Joe Biden.

A 3rd particular person in Washington accustomed to the matter confirmed {that a} delegation led by Burns had instructed prime Bolsonaro aides the president ought to cease undermining confidence in Brazil’s voting system. That supply was not sure whether or not the CIA director himself had voiced the message.

The CIA declined to remark. Bolsonaro’s workplace didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Burns arrived in Brasilia six months after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol following former U.S. President Donald Trump’s election loss.

Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist who idolizes Trump, has echoed the previous U.S. chief’s baseless allegations of fraud within the 2020 U.S. election. He has additionally forged comparable doubts about Brazil’s digital voting system, calling it liable to fraud, with out offering proof.

That has raised fears amongst his opponents that Bolsonaro, who’s trailing leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in opinion polls, is sowing doubts so he can observe Trump’s instance, rejecting any loss within the Oct. 2 vote.

On a number of events, Bolsonaro has floated the thought of not accepting the outcomes, and has repeatedly attacked the nation’s federal electoral court docket. Final week, in his newest broadside, Bolsonaro, a former military captain, recommended the army ought to conduct its personal parallel poll depend alongside the court docket.

Two of the sources warned of a possible institutional disaster if Bolsonaro had been to lose by a slim margin, with scrutiny targeted on the position of Brazil’s armed forces, which dominated the nation throughout a 1964-85 army authorities that Bolsonaro celebrates.

Throughout his unannounced journey, Burns, a profession diplomat nominated by Biden final yr, met on the presidential palace with Bolsonaro and two senior intelligence aides – nationwide safety adviser Augusto Heleno and Alexandre Ramagem, then-head of Brazilian intelligence company Abin. Each had been Bolsonaro appointees.

Burns additionally dined on the U.S. ambassador’s residence with Heleno and Bolsonaro’s then-Chief of Workers Luiz Eduardo Ramos, each former generals. Brazil’s army has traditionally loved shut ties with the CIA and different U.S. intelligence companies.

On the dinner, in keeping with one of many sources, Heleno and Ramos sought to dismiss the importance of Bolsonaro’s repeated allegations of voter fraud. In response, the supply mentioned, Burns instructed them that the democratic course of was sacred, and that Bolsonaro shouldn’t be speaking in that approach.

“Burns was making it clear that elections weren’t a difficulty that they need to mess with,” mentioned the supply, who was not licensed to talk publicly. “It wasn’t a lecture, it was a dialog.”


It’s uncommon for CIA administrators to ship political messages, the sources mentioned. However Biden has empowered Burns, one of the crucial skilled U.S. diplomats, to be a low-profile mouthpiece for the White Home.

Final month, for instance, Burns mentioned in a public handle that in November, 4 months after visiting Brasilia, Biden dispatched him to Moscow “to convey on to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and a number of other of his closest advisers the depths of our concern about his planning for struggle, and the implications for Russia” in the event that they proceeded.

The tenor of his feedback in Brasilia was bolstered the month after his journey, when U.S. Nationwide Safety Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Bolsonaro and raised comparable considerations about undermining belief in elections. Nevertheless, the Burns delegation’s message was stronger than Sullivan’s, the Washington-based supply mentioned, with out elaborating.

“It can be crucial that Brazilians trust of their electoral techniques,” a U.S. State Division official mentioned in a press release when requested for remark, including that america is assured of Brazil’s establishments, together with free, truthful and clear elections.

On Saturday, nevertheless, in a recent signal of disquiet amongst a few of Washington’s overseas coverage institution, the latest U.S. consul in Rio wrote in a Brazilian newspaper that america ought to make it clear to Bolsonaro that any effort to undermine elections would set off multilateral sanctions.

Biden and Bolsonaro have but to talk.

Through the 2020 U.S. presidential marketing campaign, the 2 clashed over Bolsonaro’s environmental document, and he was one of many final world leaders to acknowledge Biden’s victory over Trump.

Officers in Washington have sought to enhance ties with Brasilia in latest weeks, and the presidents of the 2 largest nations within the Western Hemisphere could quickly meet in particular person if Bolsonaro attends June’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.