Olympic swimming champion Klete Keller has pleaded not guilty to seven charges over the invasion of the US Capitol by a pro-Donald Trump mob in January.
The charges against the 38-year-old, who won two relay gold medals as a teammate of Michael Phelps at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, include civil disorder, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. Keller entered the not-guilty pleas during a video hearing, and his next court appearance is due on 6 April.
In a criminal complaint, an FBI agent said the 6ft 6in Keller was easy to identify in video of the riot due to his height and the fact that he was wearing his Team USA jacket, “which also appears to bear a Nike logo on the front right side and a red and white Olympic patch on the front left side.”
Keller turned himself into authorities in January and was released without a bond. Keller deleted his social media accounts after news of the charges against him became public. Swimming website SwimSwam reported that prior to the deletion, Keller had written several posts in support of Trump.
In recent years, Keller has spoken about his struggles to adapt after his swimming career ended. “I found the real-world pressure much more intimidating and much more difficult to deal with because I went from swimming to having three kids and a wife within a year and so the consequences of not succeeding were very, very real and if I didn’t make a sale or if my manager was ticked off with me, or If I got fired – oh shoot, you have no health insurance. It’s very concrete,” he told an Olympic Channel podcast.
Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice, after he incited the mob to invade the Capitol, although he was later acquitted after the Senate fell 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to convict high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump baselessly claimed he lost the presidential election because of voter fraud. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the ensuing violence.