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Macron takes responsibility for scandal over aide’s violence

July 24, 2018
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Elysee Chief of Staff Patrick Strzoda arrives for a hearing with the deputies of the Laws Commission concerning the case of President Macron's security aide Alexandre Benalla, at the National Assembly in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. A parliamentary inquiry opened hearings Monday, a day after an investigating judge filed preliminary charges against the aide, Alexandre Benalla, who was caught on camera beating a protester in May. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — Lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s party quoted him in tweets Tuesday night as saying he takes full responsibility in a scandal surrounding a former security chief seen in a video beating a protester.

The tweets show photos of Macron at an unannounced gathering Tuesday evening with ministers and parliament members making his first remarks since the scandal broke six days ago.

Aurore Berge, a parliamentary spokeswoman for Macron’s centrist party, tweeted quotes of the president saying that “the only one responsible is me. They can come and get me.”

Legislator Bruno Fuchs quoted Macron as saying the May Day action by the security aide, Alexandre Benalla, “was for me a betrayal.”

Macron, a centrist who created his own political party with the promise of an exemplary presidency, has been confronted with a major political crisis since the revelation last week by the newspaper Le Monde that the man seen in internet video acting violently with protesters was a top security aide for the president.

Benalla has since been handed preliminary charges along with four others, including three ranking police officers.

A parliamentary inquiry is underway to learn why Benalla wasn’t fired in May, with government ministers, the police chief and top officials at the presidential palace testifying. But opposition politicians have been calling for Macron to break his silence.

Tuesday’s parliamentary session was electric as lawmakers noisily pounded the prime minister with questions. Work on a constitutional revision has been suspended and an opinion poll indicates Macron has lost support.

Berge said later on BFM-TV that Macron told the gathering he is not a fair-weather president and suggested he won’t let other officials take the blame. The press has been speculating about which ministers or officials might lose their jobs.

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