McSally backs Pentagon nominee accused of sexual assault

McSally backs Pentagon nominee accused of sexual assault
© Greg Nash

Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Trump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing MORE (R-Az.), who has spoken of her experience being sexually assaulted in the military, said Tuesday that she does not believe the sexual assault allegation against President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE’s nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

McSally said Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that she had “full confidence” in Gen. John Hyten, who has been accused by Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser of unwanted sexual advances, including kissing, hugging and rubbing, in 2017.

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Spletsoser has said Hyten’s advances escalated until he pressed against her in a hotel room and ejaculated on her while kissing her at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

While McSally, who earlier this year spoke of being raped by a superior officer in the Air Force, said she took the allegations “extremely seriously” but that she had reviewed the evidence and concluded “Hyten is innocent.”

“Sexual assault happens in the military. It just didn’t happen here,” she added.

Hyten has denied all the allegations, saying at his confirmation hearing Tuesday “I want to state for you and the American people in the strongest possible terms that these allegations are false. Nothing happened, ever.”

Spletsoser, who testified behind closed doors last week, sat in the front row during Hyten’s hearing on Tuesday.