The Army colonel leveling sexual assault allegations against the nominee to be the U.S. military’s No. 2 officer said she’s willing to testify under oath to senators on the details of the alleged incidents, The Washington Post reported.
The woman told the Post that she is prepared to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee, preferably in a closed-door session, on her allegations against U.S. Strategic Command head Gen. John Hyten.
The committee is handling the confirmation process for Hyten, whom President TrumpDonald John TrumpControversial platform Gab slams White House for not inviting it to social media summit GOP senator: US should ‘reevaluate’ long-term relationship with Saudis Pelosi reportedly told Trump deputy: ‘What was your name, dear?’ MORE in April nominated to become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Defense officials on Wednesday briefed several committee members on an Air Force investigation that cleared Hyten of the allegations — the incidents contained in which were said to have taken place between 2017 and the start of 2018 — and have publicly surfaced after the accuser sent letters to lawmakers directly.
The allegations are likely to complicate Hyten’s confirmation, as senators are now questioning the military’s handling of the claims.
Committee member Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthVeterans groups hand out USS John McCain shirts on National Mall during Trump speech Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of ‘nuclear blackmail’ | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters that she is taking the woman’s allegations “very seriously.”
“They are deeply concerning to me. I would like the rest of the committee members to hear from her,” she said Thursday.
The Army colonel who has accused Hyten said the military justice system that handled her case was flawed and that the military should take further action regarding the alleged incidents.
The woman — who began working for Hyten in November 2016 but was relieved of her duties in 2018 — claims that he made “abusive sexual contact” with her more than six times, including in a hotel room during the Reagan National Defense Forum in California in December 2017.
The officer also told The Associated Press that Hyten tried to kiss, hug and rub up against her while she was one of his aides, and that she repeatedly pushed him away and told him to stop.
After she rejected his advances he tried to ruin her military career, she told the AP. She told the Post that she was in the military for 28 years and did two tours in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq, said that she didn’t speak to anyone about the incidents at the time due to fear of retaliation.
She was later told that Strategic Command was looking into what officials said was “toxic” leadership behavior, an allegation at odds with Hyten’s positive performance reviews for her, in which she was ranked as the top officer out of 71 on his staff, the AP reported.
She was given a letter of reprimand and removed from her Strategic Command role, after which she tried to retire.
Army officials rejected her retirement after they found that it was coerced, instead moving her to a senior job in the Washington area.
The Air Force in early April received the allegations — shortly after Hyten’s nomination was announced — and Hyten denies the claims.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations then opened a “comprehensive investigation” on Hyten, who was cleared after “there was insufficient evidence to support any finding of misconduct,” Pentagon spokesperson Col. DeDe Halfhill said in a statement to The Hill.
A senior Air Force official told the AP that investigators went through 10,000 pages of documents and interviewed more than 50 people but did not find evidence to support the allegations.
The official added that the investigation also found no evidence that the woman was lying.
The Air Force then referred the review to a court-martial convening authority, but neither decided to move forward with any charge or disciplinary action against Hyten based on the lack of evidence.
The allegations — though largely dismissed — could complicate Hyten’s confirmation.
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders to join diabetes patients on trip to Canada to buy cheaper insulin George Conway renews ‘pathological narcissist’ attack on Trump in tweetstorm Trump teases social media summit before veering into attacks on press, Democratic challengers MORE (D-Mass.), and Duckworth on June 25 sent a letter to acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper that noted “serious concerns and questions” about the Pentagon’s handling of the investigation into Hyten.
Hyten’s confirmation hearing has not been scheduled, and the current vice chairman, Gen. Paul Selva, is set to retire on July 31.