Klete Keller, the United States Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer who was part of a pro-Donald Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, issued a tearful apology Monday to his former coaches for his role in the insurrection. The mea culpa came through a phone call to coaches, according to the New York Times.
"He apologized to me," Mark Schubert, who once trained Keller at the University of Southern California, told the Times. "He kept repeating, 'You've done so much for me, and I let you down.' He kept saying over and over, 'I didn't mean for any of this to happen.'"
The conversation happened after the 38-year-old and two-time Gold Medalist was turned in to the FBI. Keller was recognized by his height and U.S. Olympic jacket in videos of the crowd that stormed the Capitol building earlier this month. Keller had a separate conversation with his USA Swimming coach, Jon Urbanchek, shortly after his arraignment. The 6-foot-6 ex-Olympian once called his former coach "the type of man I want to be."
From the New York Times report:
Urbanchek said Keller cried throughout their 15-minute conversation. He was upset with himself, Urbanchek said, and told his old coach that "he never thought about what could happen."
Urbanchek added, "He was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people."
The Times story on Keller notes that while many were surprised to see him in the Capitol building -- most notably without anything to obscure his face or the fact that he has a connection to U.S. Olympics -- the decision aligned with his political turn as a Trump supporter, as seen on his social media. According to the report, this wasn't even the first election protest he had even attended, as he showed up to the "Million MAGA March" that happened in November.
If convicted, the former Olympic swimmer faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his felony charge, and up to one year and six months for the two misdemeanors, respectively, in addition to another quarter-million dollar fine attached to each. Keller could also face additional charges from a grand jury, according to his court hearing.