0348 GMT February 22, 2020
Alexandre Benalla, 26, is under criminal investigation after being filmed beating a May Day protester. The scandal brought the sharpest criticism Macron has faced since taking power 16 months ago, prompting the president to fire Benalla, his closest bodyguard, and shake up his office, Reuters reported.
The prospect of Benalla’s public grilling on Sept. 19 will keep the saga in the public eye just as Macron tries to inject new life into his presidency amid a slump in popularity and economic headwinds.
Benalla had feared placing himself in legal jeopardy and only agreed to testify before the upper house’s investigating committee late on Tuesday after being told that he risked two years in prison and a 7,500 euro (6,687 pounds) fine if he refused.
“To avoid the legal risks I am threatened with, I am forced to appear before this committee,” Benalla said in a statement.
A poll published by Odoxa on Tuesday had Macron’s popularity sinking 12 points between June and September, to a record low of 29 percent for his presidency. Its findings echo other surveys.
Senators from the opposition-controlled chamber resumed quizzing senior officials in Macron’s office on Wednesday.