No longer joined at the hip. Moro (L) and Bolsonaro (R) in puppet form during Carnival in Recife. Photo: Leo Malafaia/AFP via Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro may dismiss the coronavirus crisis, but he's taking the crisis within his administration head-on.

Driving the news: Bolsonaro’s most valuable ally resigned on national television on Friday, accusing the president of firing the head of Brazil’s federal police in order to hamper ongoing investigations.

  • Sérgio Moro said that he could no longer serve as justice minister to a president who insists on meddling in criminal investigations.

The big picture: Moro is a hero to Brazilian conservatives for an anti-corruption crusade that saw former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva jailed and brought down politicians in several other countries.

  • His allegations came amid reports that two of Bolsonaro’s sons are being investigated — Carlos Bolsonaro over an alleged “criminal fake news racket” and Flávio Bolsonaro for suspected mafia links and corruption.
  • Zoom in: While the fired police chief was removed for investigating Carlos Bolsonaro, according to Folha de S. Paolo, his replacement was photographed celebrating New Year's Eve with him.

Why it matters: Moro’s allegations could eventually provide a legal basis for the impeachment push that was already gaining steam due to COVID-19, as Bolsonaro attempted to block states from imposing lockdowns.

  • The high-profile defection also comes with Bolsonaro’s popularity dwindling down to his socially conservative base — some 30–35% of the population.

Where things stand: A poll published in early April found that 59% of Brazilians believed Bolsonaro should remain in office, while 37% thought he should resign.

  • While those numbers might be shifting, Brian Winter of Americas Quarterly estimates that 20–25% of Brazilians who don’t necessarily support Bolsonaro think, "Damn, can’t you guys in Brasilia just work this out? We just had an impeachment in 2016. We still haven’t recovered from the worst economic crisis in our history. Now we’ve got a pandemic."
  • "As long as a majority, or near-majority, of Brazilians feel that way, it’s hard to imagine Congress — which has image problems of its own — acting to remove the president, no matter how much its members despise him,” Winter contends.

Flashback: Bolsonaro swept to victory in 2018 on promises to take on the establishment, fight crime and corruption, and reform the economy.

  • Bolsonaro embraced the role of culture warrior-in-chief while delegating the second plank to Moro and the third to economy “super minister” Paulo Guedes.
  • The latest: Bolsonaro appeared alongside Guedes today to reassure jittery financial markets and rebut rumors that his other star minister was also about to bolt.

What to watch: Bolsonaro is attempting to shore up his administration and cement alliances in Congress, where majorities in both houses would be needed to remove him.

  • Bolsonaro thrives on polarization and benefits from a divided opposition. If he does complete his term, he could well win a new one in 2022.

Go deeper

Two officers shot in Louisville amid Breonna Taylor protests

Police officers stand guard during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Ben Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Louisville Metro Police Department said two officers were shot downtown in the Kentucky city late Wednesday, just hours after a grand jury announced an indictment in the Breonna Taylor case.

Details: A police spokesperson told a press briefing a suspect was in custody and that the injuries of both officers were not life-threatening. One officer was "alert and stable" and the other was undergoing surgery, he said.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 31,778,331 — Total deaths: 974,436 — Total recoveries: 21,876,025Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,943,078 — Total deaths: 201,930 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus — Supply shortages continue to plague testing.
  4. Politics: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus — Poll says 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Technology: The tech solutions of 2020 may be sapping our resolve to beat the coronavirus
  6. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  7. Sports: Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball.
  8. Future: America's halfway coronavirus response

Biden: Breonna Taylor indictment "does not answer" call for justice

Former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the grand jury indictment of a Louisville police officer who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March in a botched drug raid that led to her death, saying in a statement the decision "does not answer" for equal justice.

The big picture: Biden called for reforms to address police use of force and no-knock warrants, while demanding a ban on chokeholds. He added that people "have a right to peacefully protest, but violence is never acceptable."

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