Brian CNN Interview


Brian Winter on CNN: Trial Begins for First of Brazil's January 8 Rioters

By Zain Asher

Brazil's Supreme Court and political class are "trying to very clearly send this message: never again," said AS/COA's vice president of policy.

AS/COA's Vice President of Policy Brian Winter spoke at CNN's "One World with Zain Asher" about the trial of supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro who were accused of storming top government offices on Jan. 8 in an alleged bid to forcefully restore the former president.

Winter said that Brazil's Supreme Court and the country's political class at large are "trying to very clearly send this message: never again."

"They are trying to show with these quick trials against these people who participated, that if you go into government buildings, multiple government buildings, do something that in some ways was even worse than what happened in the January 6, 2021 riots in the United States just because of the scale, that this won't be tolerated, it will be punished. And now the quest is on to find not only the people who went into the buildings but the people who paid for them to be there. Those investigations continue. It hasn't advanced as much as these other trials have so far," the expert said.

Winter added that there is no public evidence that former president Bolsonaro was personally directing this and therefore the trials have not touched on him directly.

"But Bolsonaro has other legal issues and he has already been forbidden by the courts from running in the next presidential election set for 2026 for spreading fake news about Brazil's electronic voting system in 2022. So at least in theory, if that holds, he's out," Winter said.

"He may also face prison time for this scandal in which he allegedly ordered aids to sell jewelry that had been gifted to him by the Saudi Arabian government. So he has other issues that he is going to be dealing with," the expert said.

Asher asked Winter about Brazil's climate of political division.

"Believe it or not, things have gotten a little better. I think, in part, because a lot of Brazilians are just tired of politics, they are tired of the division. When I was last in there, in August, so very recently, the feeling had definitely changed, and people who I spoke to, in politics and business, confirmed this. And I think there's a couple reasons. One of them is this corruption scandals involving Bolsonaro have really left the conservative movement, his supporters, shocked, and in some ways I think that they're just very disappointed with Bolsonaro because even if you don't buy into the allegations that he spread fake news about the election, the allegations about him essentially trying to hawk this jewelry that didn't belong to him and pocket the money. It's very embarrassing."

"The other thing that's happened: there's nothing like an economic turnaround and Brazil's economy might grow three percent this year and that would be a good number for them," Winter said. ...

Watch the interview.