By Ricardo Brito
BRASILIA (Reuters) -A Brazilian senator said on Thursday that a close aide to far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro had tried to persuade him to join a conspiracy to annul the October elections that Bolsonaro had lost.
Senator Marcos do Val said at a news conference that he was invited to a meeting on Dec. 9 with the then-president by Bolsonaro associate, former lawmaker Daniel Silveira. At the meeting, Silveira asked do Val to try to get the top electoral authority, Justice Alexandre de Moraes, to make compromising comments in a taped conversation that would lead to de Moraes' arrest, do Val said.
Bolsonaro "sat in silence" while Silveira laid out the plot, the senator told reporters.
The former president had made baseless attacks on the voting system's integrity and de Moraes had defended the system in decisions that Bolsonaro blamed for his defeat.
Silveira was arrested by police on Thursday on a warrant issued by de Moraes, who accused him of disobeying court rulings and "complete disrespect and mockery" of the judiciary.
It was not immediately possible to reach representatives for Bolsonaro, who has been reclusive in Orlando since late December. His party, the Liberal Party, declined to comment.
Do Val's statement is the hardest evidence yet to support accusations that Bolsonaro tried to overturn the result of the election that was narrowly won by leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took office on Jan. 1.
Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida 48 hours before Lula took office without ever conceding defeat. He is being investigated by de Moraes on the Supreme Court for his possible role in inflaming riots by his supporters, who stormed government buildings on Jan. 8 seeking to provoke a military coup.
De Moraes ordered Senator do Val to testify before federal police within five days as part of the probe into the former president's alleged attempt against democracy, according to a Supreme Court document seen by Reuters.
Do Val, who said he was considering resigning his Senate seat, described the meeting as "a bizarre, immoral and even criminal action," according to Veja news weekly, which first reported the alleged conspiracy.
Do Val, a Bolsonaro supporter, said Silveira told the former president that he was a trusted person and asked the president to present "the idea that would save Brazil" to him, according to the Veja report.
(Reporting by Ricardo Brito, Steven Grattan, Gabriel Araujo and Eduardo Simoes; writing by Anthony Boadle; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O'Brien)