The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to announce a confirmation hearing for Gen. John Hyten, the nominee to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who’s been accused of sexual misconduct. Following a closed-door meeting with Hyten on the allegations, Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told reporters the panel would announce the hearing later Thursday.
Announce that this afternoon, that we will be having … [an] open confirmation hearing,” Inhofe said. Inhofe didn’t specify whether Hyten’s accuser, a military officer who worked for Hyten and accused him of a series of unwanted sexual advances, would testify. The panel interviewed Hyten behind closed doors for several hours. Senators also heard testimony from his accuser on Tuesday.
The Air Force investigated the allegations this year but concluded there wasn’t sufficient evidence to take action against Hyten, who now leads U.S. Strategic Command. Inhofe has lauded the Air Force’s probe for its thoroughness.
“Gen. Hyten thanks Chairman Inhofe and the committee members for this opportunity to share his side of the story,” Strategic Command spokesman Navy Cmdr. Bill Clinton said.
Most senators declined to comment on the session. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Armed Services member who has said she’s concerned Hyten received preferential treatment, said there are bipartisan concerns about the nomination in light of the accusations against the four-star general.
“The accusations are very serious in light of especially … what’s happening in the military with the rise in military sexual trauma,” Duckworth said. “I also think that the position that he’s about to take is incredibly serious, not just for our nation but for the world. And so we are being very very thorough, very very methodical as we go through this. “We’ve actually been talking across the aisle on this,” she said. “Every day I’ve had conversations.”
The Illinois Democrat said there are still lingering questions about the case. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions that maybe he, not the accuser, can answer, but that has to do with how DoD treated this case,” she said.
Hyten was tapped to replace Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who is set to retire Aug. 1, as the No. 2 officer on the Joint Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday to confirm Army Gen. Mark Milley to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.