President Michel Temer of Brazil has denied a newspaper report that he approved payments to silence a possible witness in a corruption inquiry.
He was accused of authorising illicit payments to politician Eduardo Cunha, who was jailed in March for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.
O Globo newspaper said it had obtained a recording of Mr Temer discussing the payments with a senior business leader.
Almost a third of the cabinet is under investigation for alleged corruption.
The content of the alleged recordings is so grave that the shockwaves quickly rippled across the country.
There was turmoil in Congress, with opposition members calling for snap elections and filing at least two official impeachment requests within hours against President Temer.
Protesters took to the streets in Sao Paulo and Brasilia, calling for the president to resign.
There was also loud pot-banging from windows in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife.
On social media, the question of what will happen now is being asked, while on Brazil’s main news channel political, commentators have referred to this as a “point of no return”. President Temer denied the allegations and called for them to be thoroughly investigated.
Whatever the outcome, this is a massive game-changer – the first time Mr Temer has been directly implicated in the massive corruption inquiry known as Car Wash. The effect will be even more damming should the audio of the recording be made public.