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Rousseff Denies Guilt, Calls Impeachment a Coup; Zika a Concern for Rio Olympics Athletes; Trump and Ryan to Meet. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 12, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hi, there. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is expected to deliver a speech any moment now, just hours after
the senate voted to suspend her for up to six months while she faces an impeachment trial.
Ms. Rousseff is accused of breaking budgetary laws; her trial comes in the middle of a staggering recession and less than three months before the Rio
Olympics. Our Shasta Darlington is in Brasilia with the latest.
Hi, there, Shasta. We're expecting her to speak any moment.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Robyn. Right here behind me is the presidential palace. She has just been
notified officially of the senate's vote to go ahead with an impeachment trial.
They voted 55-22, really overwhelmingly in favor of this. So with this notification, she must now step down for 180 days to defend herself. And
as you can see hundreds of her supporters are gathering in front of the presidential palace, waiting to hear from her.
We expect a defiant speech. She has said over and over again she is going to fight until the very last minute, that she considers herself the
democratically elected leader until December 31st, 2018, when a new president would step in.
However with this vote in the Senate, she has been suspended, so she will be stepping down. She will have to -- she gets to keep the presidential
residence and, according to her aides and allies she has set up a kind of war room there, where they will be planning her strategy for the
We also expect a lot of supporters to keep heading out on the streets, really showing, protesting what they view as an institutional coup d'etat,
removing a democratically elected leader. And, in the meantime, Vice President Michel Temer, once her ally, for many years an ally of the
Workers Party, will be stepping in as interim president.
They are now, of course, sworn enemies, they're rivals. We also expect to hear from him later in the day. He will be announcing new cabinet members,
very important to that, of course, will be his decision for finance minister, his economic team and anything that he can say about how he's
going to get the economy back on track -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK. Let's talk about Ms. Rousseff, though. She says this is an institutional coup. She has alluded to quite bluntly that this is a
hypocritical, because many of those other members of congress, those who are going after her, are also charged or at least tainted with corruption
DARLINGTON: That's right, Robyn. There are a couple different things going on here. The lawmakers are trying to impeach her on accusations that
she really manipulated the accounts, she borrowed money from state banks to cover social programs; didn't pay them back until she was re-elected, which
would have left a kind of a hole in the budget. They say that's illegal.
She has come back saying she didn't break any laws and also she didn't -- she just did everything that other presidents did. Of course, her critics
say, well, saying everybody else did it is not a very good defense.
And she also used this recourse a lot more than any of the presidents before her. It was in the billions and billions of dollars. So this is
something that's going to play out in the court of public opinion and also in the senate. This is a political trial, it's not a criminal trial.
At the same time, of course, there is a sweeping corruption probe going on in this country. It's really centered on the state-run oil company,
Petrobras, and investigators have found that companies paid massive bribes to politicians in order to get these favorable contracts with Petrobras.
And a lot of the politicians who got those bribes are allegedly the lawmakers who are trying to impeach her. So there's a lot of back-and-
forth here, a lot of mudslinging but they are two different processes going on and they will go on simultaneously.
We will no doubt see more politicians wrapped up in this criminal probe at the same time that they try and permanently remove Dilma Rousseff from
office -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. I mean, there's been more twists and turns in this political drama than some people have said in "House of Cards," which itself is
pretty dramatic. Mudslinging just one of them, keeping an eye on events there in Brasilia, Shasta Darlington, thank you very much.
And of course we will take you straight back to Shasta and Dilma Rousseff as soon as she makes any comments. Stay with us.
Thanks a lot, Shasta.
Ms. Rousseff's impeachment could have an impact on the Rio Olympic Games, which are already feeling the effects of the Zika outbreak. Alex Thomas
joins us now from London.
Hi, there, Alex. There is this political drama going on in Brazil. But there are global implications and, more specifically, for every athlete,
that is going to be going to Brazil.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Because we've been reporting widely --
THOMAS: -- haven't we, over the recent months how the Zika virus is a real conundrum for athletes. The International Olympic Committee, who organized
the Summer Olympic Games and the Winter Olympic Games have said it's down to each individual country and each individual athlete within each nation
that's competing to make the decision whether or not they feel safe to go.
They're adamant the games should go ahead. As far as Dilma Rousseff's impeachment is concerned, it shouldn't have a huge impact on the games
because she's been, you know, part of the people that's helped organize and bring the games to her country.
But at this stage she is more of a figurehead than anything because the infrastructure is made, the venues are ready and the IOC and all their
people in place for the games itself are separate to the political process in that respect.
The games should go ahead. But as far as the Zika virus is concerned, new research at a Canadian academic, who's published research in the very
respected "Harvard Public Health Review," says that he thinks the IOC and the World Health Organization who are advantage IOC have got it wrong, that
the Zika virus problem is far bigger than they think and that Rio de Janeiro, the city that's hosting the games, is right at the center of the
Zika problem. This is what he had to say to us.
CURNOW: Oh, Alex, I don't know if we have that sound bite. I don't know if you can paraphrase it for us.
Be just as good?
THOMAS: Essentially, he's saying that when you got half a million people coming to see the Olympic Games and you've got more than 10,000 athletes on
top of that and many thousands of media, the Zika virus, although it's spread by a mosquito it's also a sexually transmitted disease.
And people are coming from more than 200 countries around the world. Certainly as far as the athletes are concerned, there's more than 200
countries competing and they will take Zika virus back to where they came from. And it could lead to a global epidemic of sorts. And it's going to
make the Zika problem far bigger than it might have been.
He's calling for the Olympic Games to be postponed until Professor Amir Ataran (ph), who is a Canadian academic who wrote in the "Harvard Public
Health Review." And it's not the first person to call for the Olympic Games to be postponed or for its location to be moved. The IOC and the
World Health Organization have responded, and said they don't agree with his claims and his conclusions.
And said particularly when it comes to two reasons, first of all, they will do everything they can to clear away stagnant pools of water where the
mosquitoes breed. But also remember that, unlike in Atlanta, where you are at the moment and
London, where I am, it's not going to be summer in Rio in August when the games are on; it's actually winter months, slightly cooler. And that will
help stop the mosquitoes problem get out of hand and stop the spread of Zika.
CURNOW: And this isn't an overreaction?
There has been some criticism that this kind of result might be overblown. The fact remains is that people just don't know the implications of how
this is going to play up.
THOMAS: I think, like any science, it's certainly debatable whether you're on the side that the problem has been underestimated or whether you're on
the side of the IOC and the WHO, who says there's no real reason why the games shouldn't go ahead.
But I think the professor did point out that when you're talking about an organization like the IOC that has revenues around $2 billion, most of
those revenues based around the commercialism of the Olympic Games, there's some pretty powerful financial forces in play when it comes to the decision
as to whether or not to move or postpone the games and --
CURNOW: That's one thing. But then these individual athletes, you know, are they going to be having to make very tough decisions on whether they
even pitch up?
THOMAS: Yes, there are. And so far some of them have taken those individual decisions.
So for example, you've got Hope Solo, the very famous goalkeeper for the America Women's National Team, saying she's not going to go. I guess women
that are pregnant or could be pregnant in the near future are certainly people that might have to make the decision or take the decision more
seriously than others.
But there's an Australian golfer, Marc Leishman, whose wife had very serious health problems associated with a pregnancy and He's decided he's
not going to go and he's not the first leading Australian golfer to say he's not going to compete in the Olympics. Golf returning to the Olympics
for the first time in more than a century at these Rio games.
And I think the athletes that do decide not to go may feel slightly bitter that it's in their individual hands rather than the Olympics as a movement
taking the decision for them, based on a consensus of medical opinion, of which there doesn't seem to be a consensus -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK. Alex Thomas in London, thanks so much for giving us your perspective. Appreciate it.
OK. Now to the U.S. Capitol and the hunt for Republican unification. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in the latest test of his
campaign, meeting with Paul Ryan and other party leaders. Both Ryan and Trump claim they're looking for common ground but they were at a frosty
standstill for weeks. Manu Raju has the story.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: To pretend we're unified without actually unifying, then we go into the fall at half strength.
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it'll go well. Paul is a good person. I don't know Paul well.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All eyes on whether they will --
RAJU (voice-over): -- emerge with a united front.
REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R), I think it's important for the leader of our party right now, who is the Speaker, to get together with the presumptive nominee
and actually work together.
RAJU (voice-over): Several close allies tell CNN that for Ryan to embrace or endorse Trump, he would need to align with the party's core principles.
As of now, the differences are deep on multiple issues like taxes, trade, entitlements and military alliances.
But it's becoming more challenging to know exactly where Trump stands on key issues.
In the last 24 hours, Trump appears to be softening on his controversial plan to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.
TRUMP: It's a temporary ban, Brian, and we're going to look at it and we're going to study a problem. We have a problem. Now if you don't want
to discuss the problem, then we're never going to solve the problem.
RAJU (voice-over): Then claiming it is merely a suggestion later in the day.
TRUMP: It hasn't been called for yet. Nobody has done it. This is just a suggestion until we find out what's going on.
RAJU (voice-over): And later, when asked if the ban could go on forever, he says --
TRUMP: No, it was never meant to be. I mean, that's why it was temporary. Sure, I'd back off on it. I'd like to back off as soon as possible
because, frankly, I would like to see something happen.
RAJU (voice-over): And that's not the only issue Trump is under scrutiny for. The billionaire under pressure to release his tax returns, which he
says isn't possible because they're being audited.
TRUMP: You don't learn anything. A tax return you learn very, very little.
RAJU (voice-over): Mitt Romney calling his refusal disqualifying and even his supporters say he should release them.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R): I think he should and I think he will. You know, Wolf, there's no law, there's a tradition.
CURNOW: OK. Well, let's talk more about this. I want to bring in my first guest, Russ Schriefer is standing by in Washington, he's a Republican
political strategist who advised Chris Christie on his presidential campaign and Mitt Romney among others.
And CNN political commentator Doug Heye, who's in New York, he's also a strategist and former communications director of the Republican National
Hi, there, gentlemen. Before we even start, I do want to warn you I might have to interrupt you. We're waiting for the suspended Brazilian president
to speak and that might pop up during our conversation. But let's get started anyway because I want to get your perspective on this meeting.
Russ, you first. You've advised six of the seven last presidential campaigns.
What would you be advising Mr. Trump as he has this conversation now?
RUSS SCHRIEFER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think they both have a lot to gain out of this meeting. I think that there is clearly issues that
they need to resolve with one another. But the most important thing that Donald Trump needs to do between now and the convention is to unify the
That means getting as many House members, Senate members and rank-and-file Republicans, who some of them still are a little bit skittish about
supporting Donald Trump on his side. And I think that this is a first step in doing that.
Paul Ryan is a very well-respected figure. He is, in many ways, the conscience of the Republican Party. His -- he's very serious about policy
issues. And I think the two of them getting together, talking about policy and figuring out what the policies and the planks of the Republican Party,
is a first step in unifying and putting the party together.
CURNOW: Doug, to you, you've worked on the other side in many ways with congressional leadership, with the Republican National Committee. This is
a man who has effectively just executed the equivalent of a corporate takeover of their party.
What do they want to hear from Mr. Trump?
Is it just about policy?
Or do you think it's going to go -- are they going to trust him, whatever he says?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. You're right it wasn't just a corporate takeover, a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, if you
will. But they want to hear specific policies, obviously, but it's also larger than that. And that's the one thing I've heard from Paul Ryan's
office, is it's not just about, say, trade policy or tax policy or so forth, though I agree with Russ that that will certainly be a part of the
But it's also the broader message and tone that Trump has taken in this campaign and how that affects not just the 2016 presidential race but also
Senate campaigns and House campaigns. Paul Ryan is particularly concerned about his House members, who will have to defend themselves against
attacks, just for supporting Trump when we see outrageous statements coming almost every week from Trump, whether on Twitter or whether at rallies.
These things scare a lot of Republican House members and that's one of the things that Paul Ryan wants to talk about.
CURNOW: In many ways, Doug, that's what Paul Ryan did last week, when he kind of provided them with cover for those down the ticket. He kind of
gave them the space to, perhaps, distance themselves from Mr. Trump.
Is Mr. Ryan also going to sit down with Donald Trump and give him a one-on- one on congressional majority?
HEYE: Well, I think what he's going to do is try to make sure that they can all eventually end up at the same place. He wants to support the
nominee, obviously. He wants the party to be unified.
But he's also well aware his members have very real concerns, a majority of the members have very real concerns, moving forward, which is why you've
seen so many --
HEYE: -- refuse to endorse him or give a very milquetoast, I'll support the nominee.
But the other thing I would say is I wouldn't expect a lot of fireworks in this meeting and, in fact, I wouldn't expect a lot of news coming out of
this meeting. After this is done, I think you'll see Paul Ryan and congressional leadership say it was a good, productive meeting.
You'll hear words like "constructive dialogue" and things like that. Trump may say it was a big, beautiful meeting. But I wouldn't expect fireworks
or any real deliverables just yet.
CURNOW: This is not "Rumble in the Jungle." We aren't going to come out with some sort of decision here or some screaming headline.
But in terms of this dynamic, I think what's fascinating is that it's interesting to see who holds the cards here. Trump says he's a master
negotiator but, really, who holds the cards?
And I'm told I am going to have to interrupt you and not ask you that question. We're going straight to Brazil, where Dilma Rousseff is
DILMA ROUSSEFF, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): . and all my fellow Brazilians, that was open by the senate, the process of impeachment
and it was determined that my mandate is suspended for 180 days.
I was elected president by 54 million people, citizens of Brazil. And it's within this condition of elected president by the 54 million Brazilians
that I talk to you today, which is a decisive moment for the Brazilian democracy and for our future as a country.
What is at risk here in this impeachment process is not only my mandate; what's at risk here is the respect to the elections, the desire of the
Brazilian people and the respect to the constitution.
What's at stake, so are all the -- what was conquered in the last 13 years, the gains for the poor and middle classes, the protection to the children,
youngsters, people going to university and technical schools, the enhancement of the minimum salary, doctors providing services to the
population, the dream of realizing and acquiring your own house.
What's at stake here is the discovery of the Brazil endaprisow (ph). What is at stake is the future of our country, the hopes and opportunities to
Before the decision of the senate, I want one more time clarify the facts and denounce the risks to the country of an impeachment that is not
truthful. It's a coup.
ROUSSEFF (through translator): Since I was elected, part of the opposition has been -- has not accepted and has requested the recount of the votes,
try to annul the elections. And after that, started to conspire openly for my impeachment.
They turn the country upside down. It blocked the chances we had to prosper with the objective of gaining by force what they didn't gain in the
election. My government has been the objective of sabotage. The objective is clear: impeding my government to go forward and so create a climate
that would be open to the coup.
When a Brazilian or when a president is impeached for a crime that has not committed, the name that we have for this in the democracy is not
impeachment, it's a coup.
ROUSSEFF (through translator): I have not committed any responsibility crimes. There is no reason for the impeachment process. I don't have
accounts abroad. I never received any money illegally. I am not part of the corruption scheme.
This process is a fragile process. It's not consistent. It's unjust and started against a person that's honest and --
ROUSSEFF (through translator): -- not guilty. It's a brutality that could be committed against any citizen, to punish somebody for a crime that he
did not or she did not commit.
There is no injustice more deeply than condemn an innocent person. Injustice is impossible to repair. This farce that I am the -- that I am a
-- subjected to, I will never accept it. I never accepted it in the past, any type of blackmailing. I have made mistakes but I have not made any
I am being judged unjustly because I have followed the law to the letter. The acts that I have followed are legal acts, correct, necessary, necessary
to govern the country, identical to previous presidents. It was not a crime at their time and it's not a crime now.
They have accused me to have followed six laws of supplementary credit and, doing this, I have committed the crime against budgetary laws. That is
false because this decree followed authorizations that were prescribed by the law. It's a regular action of management.
They say I am delayed and paid suffer (ph) plan. That's not true. The law does not demand my participation, the execution of this plan. The people
that accuse me cannot even -- cannot even tell us what are the acts that I have infringed.
Nothing is left to be paid. There are no debts. Never in a democracy the legitimate mandate of a president should be interrupted because of acts
there are legitimate in a budgetary situation. The Brazil -- Brazil is not -- cannot be the first one to do that.
I would like to direct me now to the population and say that the coup has, as a goal, not only to suspend my mandate, a president that was elected by
millions of Brazilians, direct election and a just election, suspending me and my government.
What they want is to forbid the execution of the program that was chosen by the majority of the 54 million Brazilian votes. The coup threatens
democracy. But also, the conquers that we have obtained in the last decade, during all this time I have been also faithful, faithful to
democracy. It's my obligation.
My government has not made any repressive acts against any social movements, against other movements that are asking or manifestations that
have been taking place against any political parties.
The risk right now is to be led by a government that was not elected. It was not elected by the direct vote of the Brazilian population, a
government that is not legitimate to suggest and implement solutions for the challenges that Brazil has, a government that can be attempted to try
to silence others that are not in agreement.
It's a fraudulent impeachment. It's like an indirect election. This government is the reason to continue the crisis, the political crisis, of
our country. For this, I would like to say --
ROUSSEFF (through translator): -- to all of you, I am proud that I was the first Brazilian woman, the first woman to be elected president of Brazil.
ROUSSEFF (through translator): I'm proud -- the first woman elected Brazilian president.
During all those years I fulfilled my mandate in a dignified way and honest, honoring the votes that I have received. In the name of those
votes and all the people of my country I'm going to fight with all the tools, the legal tools, that are available to me to fulfill my mandate to
the end, until the 31st of December of 2018.
The destiny has reserved to meet many challenges. Many are large challenges, some impossible to overcome. But I managed to overcome them.
I have suffered the pain of torture, the pain of a disease and now I suffer one more time the pain of injustice.
What is more painful right now is the injustice, is to notice that I am a victim of a farce, political. I look backwards and I see everything we
have done and I look forward and I see everything that we still need and can do.
The most important point is that I can look at myself and see the face of someone that, even as marred by the time, has the strength to defend its
I have fought my entire life for democracy. I have learned to rely on the capacity of fight of our people. I have lived through many challenges,
through many victories and defeats. I have to say, I never thought I had to fight again against a coup against my country.
Our democracy is young, made with fights, sacrifices, death. It does not deserve this. In the last months, our people went to the streets,
defending more rights, more advances. And that's why I am absolutely sure that the population will know how to say no to the coup.
Our people have wisdom, they have experience in history. To all Brazilians that are against the coup, independently of the political positions, I call
you to keep united and in peace.
ROUSSEFF (through translator): The fight for democracy does not have a date to end. It's a permanent fight and it demands from us total
I repeat, the fight for democracy does not have -- does not have a deadline. It's a fight that can be won -- and we are going to win it.
ROUSSEFF (through translator): This victory depends on all of us. We have to show to the entire world that there are millions of defenders of the
democracy in our country.
I know and most of you also know, above all, our people know that history is made of fight. And it's also worth -- always worth fighting for
democracy. The democracy is the right side of history. Never will give up, never will I give up fighting. Thank you to all of you.
CURNOW: Dilma Rousseff there, the suspended Brazilian president, strong, emotional words, where she said that the pain of the injustice she is
feeling is worse than the pain of torture. Shasta Darlington is in Brasilia.
You heard that speech.
What did you make of it?
DARLINGTON: You know, she reiterated a lot of the main themes that we've heard throughout, that this is an injustice because she did not commit any
crimes. She's been accused of breaking budget laws. She says that she didn't.
She repeated over and over again that this is the equivalent of a coup d'etat and that it's carried out by people who have committed much greater
crimes. She also, of course, said that she called for peace, she said she would be defiant but she would fight until the very end but she also called
for peace, which I think was interesting because we're standing outside here of the presidential palace, where crowds were hoping to hear her speak
And they were getting a bit rowdy, beginning to knock over barricades. They couldn't hear her speaking. So we saw a bit of a dichotomy there.
Heard inside repeating a lot of things that she's had to say before. She's a woman who suffered -- she was tortured during the military dictatorship
and who said that this injustice hurts as much or more because she didn't commit a crime and that she will fight until the very end.
Her supporters, I would say, a few thousand are out there, they said that they will stand by her, that they will be protesting in the street and that
we could even see strikes -- Robyn.
CURNOW: I mean you can hear, it's getting noisy, it is getting rowdy and this is an issue that has divided Brazil, Brazilians. And in her speech,
in many ways, it echoed what she told our Christiane Amanpour. She sees herself as a victim and not just herself as a victim but she feels as if
democracy is at stake here.
DARLINGTON: That's right. Again, she keeps on going back to the point that, while impeachment is allowed in the constitution, that this is not a
legitimate impeachment because they are trying to accuse her of breaking laws that she says she did not break.
This means that what she says is the forces that she ran against, the opposition that she ran against and lost in the elections is now trying by
some different means to bring her down.
It gets a little complicated because, of course, the people that she's accusing of being coupmongers are the people who were her allies for the
last 13 years and weren't running against her in the last elections.
What you saw after she was elected in October 2014 by a very narrow margin, public opinion turned really against her. The economy, which didn't seem
to be that bad right before elections, was suddenly revealed to be a complete mess; we're in the second year of a recession. We don't expect to
be out of it even next year. People are calling it a depression.
And, at the same time, there had already been hints and revelations in this corruption scandal; some politicians had been implicated and accused of
bribing -- receiving bribes to give lucrative contracts to companies.
But after the election, it just snowballed and dozens of politicians in Rousseff's Workers Party and also in other parties were accused of these
different crimes. So we saw public opinion really turning against her.
And that's when a lot of people who had been her allies, they jumped ship. And this is why we're seeing this impeachment vote now. The lawmakers saw
that this -- the tide was turning. They took advantage and they jumped on one of really many -- there were many requests in congress for her
impeachment with different fallacies and different arguments that jumped on this one and we're moving forward.
At this point it really looks very difficult that this could go backwards, although she does have up to six months to defend herself, because the vote
in the senate was 55-22. It looks like they've really already made up their minds -- Robyn.
CURNOW: They've really made up their minds.
The words she used also, fascinating, she talked about injustice, as we've said, brutality, punishment, condemning an innocent person, this is a
farce, she talked about a crime, very, very strong language.
The next six months, how precarious, how dangerous is it going to be for Brazil, particularly with these very heartfelt feelings felt for either
There she is, walking now; she's just left the senate there.
What happens next, not just in terms of where Ms. Rousseff goes but in terms of the country?
DARLINGTON: You know, Robyn, these next few days and weeks will be crucial because the vast majority of Brazilians really did want to see her out of
office. The vice president, who's stepping in, Michel Temer, on an interim basis, could capitalize on that. It really depends what he does next.
He himself is not a popular person. But if he's able to create an effective team --
DARLINGTON: -- especially an effective economic team to begin turning around the economy, make some measures that bring investment back, that
brings unemployment down, he could begin to garner some of that support that Rousseff really lost.
Even some of her supporters in some of the poorer neighborhoods across Brazil, they had begun to lose faith in her and the Workers Party because
so many of the social programs that were started over the last 13 years of the Workers Party were falling apart. They didn't have funding for them
So it really will depend on what tack Temer takes.
Will he come up with ways to sustain these social programs, to show that he isn't going to pull the rug out on a still very needy part of the
Will he be able to get the investment into the country to do that?
And is that is even his -- what he -- his priority will be?
A lot of that could help bring tempers down. There are a lot of diehard supporters for Rousseff. But she has a 10 percent approval rating.
CURNOW: I want to interrupt you. I know you probably can't see these pictures that are -- Shasta, I just want to interrupt you because there are
some extraordinary pictures that we're watching and no doubt this is happening right nearby you.
She's coming out of this building, a massive media scrum, quite chaotic and, you know, you hope this is not an analogy of a physical
representation, a visual representation of what's going to play out over the next few weeks.
The media are following her because she's also about to address the media again and no doubt she's going to use that word "coup," that she has
repeated over and over again.
DARLINGTON: Exactly, Robyn. This really is her rallying cry and the rallying cry of her supporters. They have been out on the streets, even
carrying signs in English, saying SOS, coup in Brazil; we'll hear that over and over again.
And at this point even though she's been suspended, this is something that they don't want the public to forget, that they feel that she is being
unjustly removed from office, that she is a victim of a coup, of what she calls sabotage by people who were her allies for years.
And so we expect her to address the public in many different ways. At this point, she's really decamping; she has to vacate the presidential palace
behind me that will be taken over by the vice president but she gets to keep the residential palace. So she's decamping, moving her inner circle,
her allies to the presidential residence, where they plan to set up a kind of war room.
And that's where they will come up with their strategies. Here in Brasilia today is also her mentor, her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. So
he will no doubt be sitting down with her as they really strategize what is their next step, and not only how will they defend themselves in this
impeachment trial and senate but how will they try to bring the public opinion back around in their favor.
And, to a certain degree, they have succeeded in recent weeks by pointing to the -- their finger at the lawmakers who are leading this impeachment
drive, pointing out the obvious.
Many of them have been accused of money laundering, corruption, having these Swiss bank accounts, something she has never been accused of. And so
we have seen an oscillation in public opinion and I expect that she will be taking advantage of all of the media attention today and in the coming days
to really hammer home that point -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. And hammering home that point are those images as we play as you talk the huge reception she is getting there. I think I saw one woman
trying to throw rose petals or flowers on her.
So there is this division between whether you support her or not. She will be speaking to this crowd.
The speech she's just given now, was it broadcast across Brazil?
How many people would have heard it?
DARLINGTON: It was broadcast. Her core supporters right out here didn't hear it but it was broadcast across Brazil because everybody's waiting.
This is a very decisive --
DARLINGTON: -- moment in Brazilian history. And everybody really is paying attention. Everybody's watching. If you go to a bar, even in their
-- people's offices, they're watching it on their computers. People are watching it on their homes.
So yes, everybody is turning in -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. And I think the reason why this is also important is that Brazil is one of the world's largest economies. It was a great hope in
terms of a developing nation.
And what we're seeing now is not just change but it's also potentially chaos. And the images of this now former president, suspended president,
surrounded by people, by media, it doesn't look like a very safe security situation.
In terms of what she's won and what she has given up, I was just looking at a note from our INTERNATIONAL DESK, what we do know is that she's lost the
Olympics. You know, that was going to be a huge feather in any president's cap and she certainly lost that.
What does that mean also for Brazil and for Dilma Rousseff, that the Olympics comes during a time of such increased political turmoil?
DARLINGTON: Well, it's a huge embarrassment for Brazil, Robyn, but also it is a blow to Rousseff and her predecessor, her predecessor, Lula da Silva,
he was the only really fighting for Rio to be the host city. It was a huge celebration across the country.
When Brazil won that bid back in 2009, I was on Copacabana Beach, millions of people were partying, were (speaking Spanish). So it was a huge moment
of victory for them. And now it's turning into what is very likely going to be an embarrassment.
This political chaos is going to be playing out on the global stage as they prepare for the Olympics. And if you tune in, if you look at TVs and open
a magazine, you don't see a whole lot of publicity out there for the games. What you see is all of this negative coverage of the recession, of the
political chaos, of the impeachment.
And so for Dilma Rousseff in particular, who inherited, if you will, the project for the games from Lula and was expected to be there in Maracana
Stadium on August 5th when the opening ceremony kicked off, she, in fact, was right here behind me, lighting the torch, just last week, I think it
This is a personal blow for her, it's a blow for their whole project and the Workers Party.
And for Brazil to be in this difficult position, on the one hand, trying to push for political change but not wanting to appear a chaotic country that
-- whose institutions are out of control, this is going to be a tough challenge.
Of course having said that, the games themselves are really at this point on autopilot. They're being controlled and planned by the International
Olympic Committee, by the local Olympic committee. So in that sense they shouldn't be so affected. It's really Brazil itself, its image that is
going to be battered here -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. We saw and spoke -- her last act of government, her last act of public office, was when that Olympic torch landed in Brazil. No doubt
an emotional moment for her.
So you know, she's going to -- if she wants to go I suppose she's going to have to buy a ticket like everybody else and that's probably unlikely.
In terms of her allies within government, will there be more shakeups?
And is there say, for example, the possibility that the sports minister, who, I understand is aligned with her, also perhaps loses his job or are
there going to be more shakeups before the Olympic Games?
DARLINGTON: Robyn, there will undoubtedly be shakeups across the board. But I have to say it doesn't matter a whole lot. When the impeachment
proceedings started, half of her ministers jumped ship anyway. So they've only been around for a few weeks or a month.
The new incoming interim president, Michel Temer, will no doubt appoint new ministers in Brazil and I assume in many places. These are bargaining
chips. This is how you bring allies on board. This is how you secure votes in congress and in the senate.
So we're going to see a lot of people changing places. However, a lot of the technocrats who handle the day-to-day of everything, from the Olympics
planning to security, to you name it -- health, education -- a lot of those people will remain the same. We won't see a lot of changing.
There's going to be a lot of political changes at the top; at the sports ministry, for example, you will see a lot of the mid-level officials who's
been doing this. I'm going to interrupt myself. Because we have Dilma Rousseff right behind me now, addressing the media, Robyn. I don't know if
you can see this. I'm going to step out of the shot.
CURNOW: Yes. Let's listen in.
DARLINGTON: -- listen to the crowds behind me.
DILMA ROUSSEFF, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): The energy and the tenderness you passed to me, I have a moment of happiness. The sadness
is because today we live --
ROUSSEFF (through translator): -- a tragic time in our country. The democracy, the Brazilian democracy, the young Brazilian democracy --
please, if you can move so I can see the people here on the side.
Our young democracy is subject to a coup.
Why do I call this process a coup?
I call it a coup because the impeachment without responsibility crime is a coup. Those that were unable -- those who were unable to arrive to this
position -- please, can you move so I can see the rest of the people. Please move back a little bit, please, so that everyone that is here, I can
So this process is a coup because it's an impeachment without a crime. I have not committed a responsibility crime. I am the object of a great
injustice. I am the victim of a great injustice. Those who did not manage to get to the government through the direct vote of the people, those that
lost the elections try now by force to get to the power.
This coup is based in irresponsible reasons because the acts that I have committed that they have accused me of are pure acts of government. They
were also performed by all the presidents before me. If it wasn't a crime before, it's not a crime now.
CURNOW: OK. We've been listening there to Dilma Rousseff, again speaking, saying that she is a victim of a coup.
Shasta Darlington is there, where the suspended Brazilian president is. She's speaking to supporters, to the media. You see a lot of the Workers
Party reds, some balloons as well there.
Shasta, her argument is that what she is accused of were acts of governments, that folks before her had already done this. And fiddled the
books or not, she says she was just continuing something that had been done before.
DARLINGTON: That's right, Robyn. Part of the complication here is that, under Brazil's constitution, the impeachment trial is a political trial.
This isn't a criminal trial. We're not going to have that many experts in there really going over what constitutes breaking a budget law.
This does, to a certain degree, come down to opinion and especially public opinion. Her critics and her accusers say that she did break budget laws
by borrowing from state banks to pay for social programs and cover a budget shortfall ahead of elections, to make the economy look better than it did.
And that she didn't pay that back until the elections were over, which really set it up for her to potentially leave a big hole for somebody who
came in after her, if she didn't win re-election.
Her supporters and she herself says that she did not break any laws by taking the steps that she took and that others had done the same thing.
And, in fact, if you look through the history, others had used the same recourse to a much lesser extent but they had used the same recourse.
In the end, however, it's senators who are going to decide. They are politicians. They aren't judges and they aren't necessarily economic
experts. And if the vote that we just saw in the senate is anything to go on, overwhelmingly, 55-22 senators voted in favor of launching this
So she faces an uphill battle trying to convince them that she didn't really break any laws, especially because --
DARLINGTON: -- she doesn't have the public on her side. She has an approval rating of around 10 percent. She certainly has a core of die-hard
supporters. We're seeing many of them right behind me. They've turned out on a workday under blaring sun to show their support for Brazil's first
woman president, a lot of them -- many of them wearing gray T-shirts with her face on it, carrying flags, holding up their fists in defiance.
And you will, no doubt, see them on the streets in weeks and days to come. They do feel that an injustice has been done, that the presidency shouldn't
be a popularity contest, that just because she's fallen out of favor doesn't mean you can ignore a vote a year and a half ago. And that will be
the argument and it is their argument.
And you can really -- you can see -- you can see both sides, if you will. However, you know, Brazil is going to have to move forward because this is
-- this is what is laid out in the contusion. Now Vice President Michel Temer will step in on an interim basis. He will choose his cabinet and
he's going to have to move quickly to try and get people on his side because he's, frankly, just as unpopular as Dilma Rousseff.
He also has a very low approval rating. His party is Brazil's biggest party so that will give him a lot more support in congress and in senate
for initiatives. But he's got to make some pretty big moves on the economy to bring in inflation, to bring down unemployment, if he's going to start
winning over hearts and minds -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Shasta, stand by. I want to speak to our Alex Thomas, who's in London.
But before we get to you, Alex, I just want to confirm, I got an e-mail from my producer, saying that Michel Temer has signed -- is signed in as
the interim president. So there's Dilma Rousseff there, speaking to her supporters, passionate. And she is now officially suspended president and
Michel Temer is the interim president.
Alex Thomas, as we watch this political drama unfold in one of the world's largest economies, it's also the home of the Olympic Games this year. And
it's not just about the political chaos that is unfolding. There is also - - Brazilians and athletes are going to have to worry about the Zika virus.
And I understand that there's been a massive warning about the implications, potentially, of this mosquito-borne virus.
THOMAS: Yes, Robyn, not the first warning but certainly a new one that casts doubts on the official version of events that the International
Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization have been trotting out in recent weeks. We'll get to that in a second.
But as you mentioned, the eyes of the world have been on this impeachment process. It's made headlines across the planet. But as far as the Olympic
Games are concerned, they are the biggest sporting events on the globe; more than 200 nations take part in it; especially the summer games every
four years, where even more countries are capable of putting one athlete up in one of the many events.
It takes place in Rio and in Brazil and, in fact, in South America for the first time in its history, from August the 5th with the Paralympic Games
following at the same venue in September.
And now we are faced with the embarrassment of the host nation not having its elected president as the face of those games. Dilma Rousseff will not
be at the opening ceremony at Rio's famous Maracana Stadium and that is an embarrassment.
The Olympic Games cost a lot of money to put on. But one of the upsides of that is supposedly an economic boost and certainly a boost to the tourism
industry. But all the bad headlines and the press over Rousseff being absent will affect that negatively.
Now as far as the Zika virus is concerned, Robyn, as I've said, we've already been warned about it. But new research from a Canadian academic,
published in the very respected "Harvard Public Health Review" journal, which is sort of an academic forum for medical professionals across the
planet, has said both the World Health Organization and IOC have underestimated how bad the Zika virus is.
And just to put it into perspective, we already know there are over 91,000 suspected cases reported in Brazil between January and April of this year.
And he says that Rio is really at the heart of all this and that by letting the Olympic Games go ahead as planned, where you have got half a million
visitors coming to the city, over 10,000 athletes from, as I said, more than 200 countries around the world, you're risking people contracting the
virus in Brazil and then taking it away with them to all four corners of the Earth.
He says the games should be postponed or moved. He doesn't want them canceled. And he's suggesting that maybe the fact that it's a
multibillion-dollar event is one of the reasons why those warnings are not being heeded.
CURNOW: Yes, Alex Thomas, thank you so much. I'm going to go back to Shasta.
Shasta, we are talking with Alex about the Olympic Games and the implications of what we're seeing on the screen on the world's biggest
sporting event. And as Alex was saying, 10,000 athletes, you know, 500,000 visitors, 200 countries participating.
The Zika virus, huge concerns about that but also we've spoken about it, also real worries about preparedness over, say, water pollution --
CURNOW: -- issues. We know a bike path collapsed. There's been gang violence. There's a lot to worry about here.
DARLINGTON: There is, Robyn. I wonder if any other city has faced this litany of challenges and obstacles so close to the Olympics. I certainly
can't think of anything in recent history.
But, you know, you started with the Zika virus. That is a challenge for -- especially for Brazil. It has caused a series of very serious, very grave
birth defects; more than 1,000 babies born with microcephaly. Pregnant women have been warned to stay away from the Olympics.
And athletes are concerned because there's so many unknowns over this. It just seems that they haven't finished the research on this. It's so new.
And there's concern that new developments could come out and a little too late.
It is -- all of the experts we talked to say that something like the Olympics, where you get so many people coming in from all over the world,
is, unfortunately, the perfect Petri dish for this to expand and then be spread around the world as all of these visitors return home.
And then of course with the economic crisis here in Brazil, something you didn't mention, the ticket sales have been pretty dismal. Just over 60
percent of tickets have been sold.
And that's largely because Brazilians themselves aren't buying. They've been distracted obviously by this political chaos. But they simply don't
have the money, either, to buy tickets. We'll see if that picks up now that the torch is here in Brazil and making its rounds -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Making its rounds, as you say, the context for the games, very challenging for Brazilians.
Dilma Rousseff there, now officially stepping aside temporarily while impeachment proceedings against her continue. She's speaking to the crowd.
Both of our correspondents, Shasta Darlington, Alex Thomas, thanks so much for joining us here.
And, of course, you're watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. "CONNECT THE WORLD" is next. Stay with us.