Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said Thursday that Strategic Command Commander Air Force Gen. John Hyten was cleared by investigators of allegations of sexual assault and he expected him to be confirmed as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“They had a thorough hearing on that and they came to the conclusion that there’s no wrongdoing, there’s no verification on the accusations against him, and so I have not heard from any of the members of the Senate since the hearing took place,” Inhofe told reporters.
When asked if Hyten’s nomination was in trouble, Inhofe responded, “I assume it’s not, because he was given a clean bill of health and there is not anything behind the accusations that require any kind of action.”
Several reports on Wednesday said Hyten was accused of sexual assault. The reports, by Defense One and the Associated Press both noted that Hyten was cleared of the accusations after an investigation by the Air Force. However, the reports questioned whether the allegations would jeopardize his nomination.
Inhofe is the chairman of the committee who will vote to confirm Hyten before the vote goes to the full Senate. However, two Democrats running for president — Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) — sit on the committee and could oppose the nominations based on the allegations.
The reports of the allegations came after members of the committee were briefed Wednesday that the allegations were unsubstantiated. Inhofe said he attended the briefing.
A source familiar with the matter told Breitbart News the allegation of sexual assault is “absolutely false.”
According to the source, the woman accusing him of sexual assault was allegedly fired in February 2018 by Hyten for creating a toxic work environment when she worked for him at Stratcom.
She was allegedly fired after a preliminary and a formal investigation found that she created a toxic work environment, according to the source. Breitbart News requested a copy of the investigation from Stratcom.
The source alleged the woman was desperate to get in touch with Hyten to clear things up, but was not allowed to contact him. She then allegedly began launching complaints against Hyten, arguing she was wrongfully terminated, according to the source.
The source said after the complaints allegedly all came back unsubstantiated, in April she accused him of sexual assault, after President Trump nominated him for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“If that sidelines him that would be horrible for our nation,” the source said. “I don’t think they know she’s a repeat offender of accusing him over and over and over over the last nine months.”
The woman, identified in the AP as an Army colonel, has begun speaking to media outlets herself.
She told the AP that Hyten, who is married, had subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances by kissing, hugging, and rubbing up against her in 2017. She said he tried to derail her military career after she rebuffed him, according to the AP.
“My life was ruined by this,” she told the outlet.
She said she is willing to testify under oath in a closed-door session to Congress.
Air Force Col. DeDe Halfhill, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told the AP on Wednesday that Hyten’s nomination remains on course.
“With more than 38 years of service to our nation, General Hyten has proven himself to be a principled and dedicated patriot,” she said.
A senior Air Force official told the AP 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 allegations.”
Sens. Warren and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) sent a letter to acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper asking why Hyten was not removed from his post amid the investigation, according to the AP.
The woman said she began working for Hyten in November 2016 after he became Stratcom commander. She said the unwanted sexual contact began in early 2017 and recurred several times that year when she was working closely with Hyten. She said she repeatedly pushed him away and told him to stop.
She said when they were on a work trip in California in December 2017, he came into her room wearing workout clothes and “hugged her tightly and rubbed up against her.” She said she told him to leave and that Hyten asked if she was going to report him and she said she would not.
She told the AP she did not report the incidents to “avoid embarrassment and out of fear of retaliation.” She said since she thought he would retire soon, she thought he would not “pose a risk” to others.
However, she said after she came under investigation for toxic behavior, was fired by Hyten, given a bad performance review by him, and heard of his nomination, she feared that he might assault someone else if he was confirmed and reported the sexual misconduct to the Pentagon inspector general.
The woman told the AP she believes Hyten has committed “the perfect crime where no one will ever believe me.”
“I’ve already completed a successful career,” she told the AP. “I had nothing to gain from doing this.”