Senate holds confirmation hearing for Gen. John Hyten amid assault allegations

The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing to consider the nomination of Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Strategic Command, to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His confirmation, however, has met with some controversy over allegations of sexual assault by a female officer.

The woman, who is a senior military officer, alleges that Hyten made unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2017 when she was one of his aides, and she has accused him of trying to damage her career after she rejected him. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations reviewed the matter and found insufficient evidence to charge Hyten or recommend any administrative punishment.

The accuser, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser, told the Associated Press that she came forward earlier this year after Hyten’s nomination, because she couldn’t live with the idea that he might assault someone else if he was confirmed for the job.

Sen. James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the committee, said last week that he hoped to move forward with a vote in the committee possibly before the Senate leaves for the August recess.

Other senators, however, have raised questions, stalling Hyten’s nomination for months and making it unclear whether he has enough support to be confirmed. Hyten is head of U.S. Strategic Command, and oversees the nation’s nuclear capabilities.

Air Force officials have said that investigators went through 10,000 pages of documents, conducted interviews with as many as 50 people and pursued every lead but did not uncover evidence to support the Spletstoser’s allegations. But they also said they found no evidence that she was lying.

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