Bolsonaro, who was visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasilia on Sunday when a group of journalists met him outside, was seen on video threatening the O Globo newspaper reporter after being questioned about the allegations.
The journalist was seeking comment from the President over alleged deposits made by a former aide of Bolsonaro’s eldest son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, into a bank account supposedly belonging to first lady Michelle Bolsonaro.
President Bolsonaro was standing just steps from the Cathedral and told the reporter, “I feel like punching you in your mouth, okay?”
When CNN asked President Bolsonaro’s office about Sunday’s incident, his spokesperson refused to comment.
In early August, Brazilian magazine Crusóe published a report which claimed that Fabrício Queiroz, the former aide to Bolsonaro’s eldest son, transferred around 72,000 Brazilian reals ($12,800) in checks to Michelle Bolsonaro between 2011 and 2016.
Queiroz is currently under house arrest as a result of an ongoing corruption inquiry involving Bolsonaro’s son. President Bolsonaro has not commented on these latest allegations.
The Bolsonaro family is facing various investigations, including an alleged scheme involving Flavio Bolsonaro in the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro State.
The Brazilian Supreme Court has also opened an investigation into Bolsonaro’s two sons, Carlos and Eduardo, for allegedly spreading fake news on the internet. Other investigations include the family’s claimed involvement in protests and the supposed interference in the appointment of the director of the Federal Police of Rio de Janeiro to stop the investigations against Queiroz.
O Globo, one of Brazil’s major news companies, condemned Bolsonaro’s actions against the journalist in a statement published on Sunday hours after the incident.
“GLOBO repudiates President Jair Bolsonaro’s aggression against a newspaper reporter who was just doing their job performing his role, in a totally professional manner,” the statement said.
Brazil’s National Association of Journalists also issued a statement. “It is unfortunate that once again the president reacts aggressively and without fear to a question from a journalist. This attitude in no way contributes to the democratic and freedom of press provided in the Constitution,” the statement said.
Sunday’s incident also drew condemnation from Bolsonaro’s critics. Alessandro Molon, a lawmaker for the state of Rio de Janeiro tweeted, “What is expected of a president is that he behaves at the height of his position. Threats to the press are threats to democracy itself.” Molon also accused Bolsonaro in the same tweet of trying to hide “his involvement in a criminal scheme.”