Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao said on Thursday that the president will have to rein in his sons after one of them called a minister a liar on social media, exacerbating tensions in a new government dealing with its first big cabinet scandal.
In an interview with Reuters, Mourao also said far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has yet to decide whether his Secretary General Gustavo Bebianno should quit over accusations of misuse of campaign funds in the October election.
Bolsonaro resumed his duties on Thursday after more than two weeks in hospital and was confronted immediately with his first cabinet crisis since taking office Jan. 1.
The scandal surrounding one of his closest aides, who denies the allegations, stole the thunder from the first news of the government’s proposed pension overhaul - a cornerstone of an ambitious economic reform agenda.
After days of damaging headlines, Bolsonaro had endorsed an attack on Bebianno by his son Carlos, a Rio de Janeiro city councilman who along with two brothers have become high-profile figures in national politics since their father’s election.
Carlos Bolsonaro has been the most combative family member on social media. The president’s son Flavio, a newly elected senator, has been caught up in a money laundering investigation. He denies any wrongdoing.
Younger brother Eduardo Bolsonaro, the most-voted federal lawmaker in the country, has become a foreign envoy for his father, courting allies such as American nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon, who told Brazilian press last week that Mourao was unhelpful and unimportant for Bolsonaro’s foreign policy.
Mourao told Reuters it was time for Bolsonaro to “give a unified order to the kids.”
“It falls to the president to call his sons and say, ‘Look, you work in the Senate, you in the lower house and you in the city council. Go work there to support the government’s ideas’,” he said.
The vice president, a retired general who embraced his role running the government in Bolsonaro’s absence and fills his agenda with meetings with diplomats and foreign executives, played down differences with his boss on international affairs.