Conversations of former President Lula (PT) recorded by the Federal Police in 2016 and kept secret ever since weaken the thesis used by today's minister Sergio Moro to justify the most controversial decision he made as head of the Car Wash Operation.
On March 16, 2016--five hours after halting the telephone tapping that he had authorized at the beginning of the operation's siege of the PT leader--Moro made public a message in which then-President Dilma Rousseff invited Lula to become the minister of the Civil House.
The disclosure led the Supreme Court to annul Lula's inauguration as minister on the eve of the opening of the impeachment process and the deposition of Dilma. For the Car Wash Operation, the phone call showed that the appointment was intended to halt investigations about him by transferring his case from Curitiba to the STF.
But unpublished records obtained by Folha and analyzed in conjunction with The Intercept Brasil indicate that other calls intercepted by the police that day, kept secret by the investigators, put in check the hypothesis adopted at the time by Moro.
The report had access to notes from agents who monitored Lula, with summaries of 22 conversations tapped after listening stopped in March 2016. They were recorded because phone operators were slow to comply with Moro's order and the system used by PF continued picking up the calls.
The dialogues, which include talks by Lula with politicians, trade unionists and then Vice President Michel Temer (MDB), reveal that the Lula told different interlocutors that he was reluctant to accept Dilma's invitation and only agreed after pressure from allies.
Although the records show that the police monitored all conversations, Dilma's call was the only one that the PF attached to the Lula investigation file that day before Moro determined to lift the confidentiality of the case.
Messages that Car Wash members exchanged in the Telegram app show that one of the listening police alerted investigators to Dilma's call as soon as she heard the call and was instructed to produce a report.
The same agent used Telegram to warn that Lula had also spoken with Temer and summarized their first dialogue two hours late. None of the investigators participating in the group reacted to the information on Telegram.
Justice Minister Sergio Moro said he did not hear of Lula's phone calls that the Federal Police tapped and kept under wraps in 2016 when he was the head judge of Lava Jato's actions in Curitiba.
In a statement, the Car Wash task force said it was up to the police to select the interceptions relevant to the investigations and that "there was no selection of audios by the authorities when Lula's case was lifted."
The task force added that its coordinator, Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, "could not directly follow the events of that afternoon" because he spent the day in Brasilia, with many appointments.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon