(Bloomberg) -- Attorneys of Jair Bolsonaro denied reports published in local news outlets that Brazil’s former president met with top military brass to discuss the armed forces overturning the results of last year’s election.
In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, lawyers representing Bolsonaro, who is currently facing multiple criminal investigations, say he “never supported any movement or project that was not supported by the law.”
Hours earlier, newspaper O Globo and website UOL reported that Bolsonaro’s longtime personal aide, Lt. Col. Mauro Cid, told federal police in a plea bargain that after his defeat to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the right-wing leader spoke with commanders about drafting a decree that could bring about a military intervention in Brazil.
Cid agreed this month to cooperate with authorities who are probing Bolsonaro for possible crimes including embezzling luxury watches and stirring up the rioters that stormed Brasilia in January in a failed insurrection against Lula.
Read More: Bolsonaro’s Mounting Legal Troubles Raise Prospect of His Arrest
The outlets did not say how they obtained the contents of the plea bargain, which is under court seal. An attorney representing Cid did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The reports reverberated through Brazil, where a 1964 coup led to two decades of military rule. Critics have long accused Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has often praised the dictatorship, of seeking to weaken the country’s democratic institutions.
Bolsonaro tapped numerous active and retired senior officers for cabinet posts, while thousands of soldiers filled lower-level government positions.
The armed forces’ reputation has suffered since the end of his presidency. Just 33% of respondents said they have “a lot of trust” in the military in an August survey from the pollster Quaest, a 10-point decline from December 2022.
Read More: Bolsonaro’s Erratic Behavior is Making His Military Backers Nervous
Brazil’s Navy said in a statement late Thursday that it did not have access to the contents of Cid’s plea bargain and would not comment on ongoing judicial investigations.
“Any individual acts and opinions do not represent the official position of the force,” the Navy said, adding that it will continue to contribute to investigations.
In June, Brazil’s electoral authority barred Bolsonaro from seeking public office for eight years for the baseless claims he made about the integrity of Brazil’s electronic voting system. He denies any wrongdoing and has since tried to distance himself from his most radical supporters as investigators bear down on him.
“Elections are turned pages,” Bolsonaro’s attorney, Fabio Wajngarten, wrote on social media.
--With assistance from Guilherme Bento.
(Updates with context on Bolsonaro’s military ties and Navy’s statement starting in sixth paragraph.)
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