Q: Why is Dilma Rousseff facing an impeachment trial?
A: She is charged with violating budgetary laws in order to conceal a deficit before what she anticipated would be a tough 2014 re-election campaign, borrowing money from banks that the executive branch controls to fund domestic programs, and making changes to the federal budget without approval.
Q: What did the Senate do?
A: The Senate voted to start a trial. Last week, a Senate committee formally presented charges against her.
Q: What are those charges?
A: Rousseff is accused of violating Brazil’s 1988 Constitution and the 1950 Law of Impeachment in making changes to the budget without congressional authorization. She is also accused of violating the constitution and the same 1950 law in borrowing money from an institution that the state controls.
Q: Why are these potentially impeachable offenses?
A: The 1950 law defines “crimes of responsibility,” identifying more than 50 situations that call for impeachment. One is violating the annual budgetary law. The 1988 constitution also bars “crimes of responsibility.”
Q: Can Rousseff go to prison if the Senate convicts her?
A: No, because she’s accused of administrative, not criminal crimes. She must step aside temporarily while the trial is underway and would have to resign if convicted.
New York Times