WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to recommend that President Trump’s pick to be the military’s second-highest officer be confirmed by the full Senate, despite an Army colonel’s allegations that he repeatedly sexually assaulted her while she served under him.

The vote was 20 to 7, reflecting bipartisan support for Gen. John Hyten, currently in charge of the national’s nuclear arsenal as the head of U.S. Strategic Command, and who was nominated in April to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The vote also reflected bipartisan opposition, after Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, decided to vote against recommending Hyten’s confirmation due to “his inability to address toxic leadership and exercise sound judgment while serving as STRATCOM Commander,” according to her spokeswoman, Kelsi Daniell.

Hyten appeared before the committee for his confirmation hearing Tuesday, where he flatly denied Col. Kathryn Spletstoser’s charges that during 2017, he attempted to kiss or have sex with her on multiple occasions while the two were on work trips.

“These allegations are false,” Hyten told senators Tuesday. “There was a very extensive, thorough investigation . . . that revealed the truth: Nothing happened, ever.”

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations’ probe produced a 1,400-page report that did not substantiate Spletstoser’s claims, according to the military and senators on the panel, who were able to review it. Most of them backed Hyten up this week – including, critically, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who was raped by a superior officer while she served in the Air Force, and who said she was sure that Hyten had been “falsely accused.”

Former Air Force secretary Heather Wilson also defended Hyten to the panel, telling senators that he “was falsely accused,” and surmising that Spletstoser might be “a wounded soldier who believes what she is saying is true, even if it is not.”

Spletstoser, who was watching from the audience after the committee denied her request to speak publicly at the hearing, said Wilson’s comments were “disrespectful and uninformed.” She also fully disputed Hyten’s testimony that the encounters she alleged did not happen, telling reporters afterward that Hyten “lied” and made “false official statements under oath.”


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