11 Questions Congress is asking the DOJ about Lava Jato

As the Amazon burns, 13 progressive Democratic Members of Congress request clarification on the US Department of Justice’s role in Jair Bolsonaro’s rise to power.

By Brian Mier

13 Democratic Members of Congress delivered a letter to US Attorney General William Barr this week, demanding answers to questions about the legality and ethics of the Department of Justice’s involvement the Lava Jato investigation and imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. As Brasil Wire has documented for the last 4 years, the US DOJ used the Foreign Corrupt Practices act to collect billions of dollars in fines from Brazilian companies through its active participation in Lava Jato . A series of leaked Telegram conversations revealed in the Intercept, now show that judge Moro and the Curitiba public prosecutors office acted illegally, in a politicized manner, to remove  front runner President Lula from the 2018 presidential elections, convicting him of a crime with no material evidence and opening the door for a victory for right wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro, who immediately awarded Moro with a cabinet position. In March, 2019, the DOJ attempted to gift the now-disgraced Lava Jato task force $682 million to open a privately managed “anti-corruption” think tank in Curitiba. The move was blocked by the Superior Justice Court for violating Brazilian law.

Led by Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia, the Members of Congress gave Barr until September 30 to answer the following questions:

1) What criteria must be met for DOJ to support any particular set of judicial agents or investigations in Brazil and other countries?

2) Do DOJ agents ensure that certain legal standards are met by the foreign judicial agents and entities with which they work, and if so, what are they?

3) Describe the involvement of DOJ in the Lava Jato operation. What led DOJ to work on these particular investigations?

4) What forms of support did DOJ provide, or is DOJ still providing, to Brazilian judicial agents involved in the operation?

5) Has DOJ supported the investigation of Brazilian and international financial institutions involved in the Lava Jato investigations? What explanation is there for the fact that few, if any, executives from financial institutions have been prosecuted during the Lava Jato operation, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars of illicit gains that have reportedly been laundered?

6) Describe the full extent of DOJ’s engagement with Judge Sergio Moro, including all technical support, information sharing, and any support provided by DOJ contractors.

7) Describe the full extent of DOJ’s engagement with prosecutors and all other judicial personnel involved in the Lava Jato Task Force, including all technical support, information sharing, and any support provided by DOJ contractors.

8) Were DOJ agents aware of collusive actions involving Judge Moro and Lava Jato prosecutors, or of any other instances of unethical conduct by these individuals?

9) Did DOJ agents or contractors continue engaging with Judge Moro following clear instances of his misconduct, such as the illegal wiretapping of a private conversation between former President Lula with then President Dilma Rousseff in early 2016?

10) Did DOJ provide assistance with the collection or analysis of evidence compiled by the Lava Jato Task Force and Judge Moro for President Lula’s case?

11) Did DOJ agents ever engage with Judge Moro, his staff, or with personnel involved with the Lava Jato Task Force through unofficial channels?

The letter was signed by Hank Johnson (GA-04) Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Susan Wild (PA-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jesus H. “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05) and Ro Khanna (CA-17). It can be read in its entirety here.


By Brian Mier

Writer, geographer and former development professional who has lived in Brazil for 26 years. Former directorate member of the Fórum Nacional de Reforma Urbana (National Urban Reform Forum). Has lived in São Luis, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Author of “Os Megaeventos Esportivos na Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Direito á Cidade” (CEPR: Porto Alegre. 2016). Editor of "Voices of the Brazilian Left" (Sumare: São Paulo. 2018). Editor of "Year of Lead: Washington, Wall Street and the New Imperialism in Brazil" ((Sumare: São Paulo. 2019) Irregular correspondent for the Chicago radio show This is Hell.