Trump Boasts About 'Strong' Relationship With Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro in Midst of Corruption, Homophobia Allegations

President Donald Trump boasted about a "strong" relationship between the United States and Brazil on Twitter Friday, after going back on a plan to reimpose steel tariffs on the country while its president is embroiled in allegations of corruption and homophobia.

Trump made the surprise announcement that he planned to reimpose steel tariffs on Brazil due to "devaluation" of the country's currency on December 2. After a Friday phone call with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Trump ditched the plan, according to a report from Bloomberg.

"Just had a great call with the President of Brazil, @JairBolsonaro," tweeted Trump. "We discussed many subjects including Trade. The relationship between the United States and Brazil has never been Stronger!"

Just had a great call with the President of Brazil, @JairBolsonaro. We discussed many subjects including Trade. The relationship between the United States and Brazil has never been Stronger!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2019

Controversy erupted in Brazil at a press conference not long before the call. Bolsonaro responded to a question about a money laundering scandal involving his son by telling a prominent journalist, "Your face looks an awful lot like a homosexual's," before adding "but that's no reason to accuse you of being a homosexual." Some in Brazil have suggested that the comments from Bolsonaro were intended to distract attention away from the scandal.

Bolsonaro and Trump
President Donald Trump with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at a joint press conference at the White House's Rose Garden March 19, 2019. Mark Wilson/Getty

Trump and Bolsonaro are believed to enjoy a close relationship and a number of parallels have been drawn between the pair in the past. Leading up to his 2018 election, Bolsonaro was dubbed "Brazil's Trump" by a number of international observers.

In addition to a similar style of right wing populism, the two share an outspoken disdain for the press. Like Trump, the Brazilian president regularly disparages the media for their "unfair" reporting. In October, Bolsonaro threatened to cancel the license of a television network that broadcast a news report concerning a scandal indirectly linking him with the 2018 murder of a Rio de Janeiro politician.

The corruption scandal Bolsonaro was questioned about Friday involves his son, Brazilian Senator Flávio Bolsonaro. The younger man was allegedly involved in a money laundering scheme involving real estate purchases and a chocolate shop called "Bolsotini."

Addresses related to the Bolsonaro family were raided Thursday as part of the ongoing investigation, which has uncovered alleged ties between the family and organized crime in Rio. The Bolsonaros have denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

The Brazilian president's recent homophobic remark was far from his first. While he has attempted to soften his anti-gay stance since taking office in January, he has described himself as a "proud" homophobe in the past, making several comments that seem to support the notion.

Bolsonaro once declared, "If I see two men kissing in the street, I will beat them." He has also spoken in favor of beating children suspected of being gay. During his presidential campaign, he made the bizarre and unsubstantiated claim that a political opponent had created a "gay kit" for schools to "convert" children to homosexuality.

The reason Trump cancelled his tariff plan is unclear and details about the "many subjects" the two discussed Friday are unknown.