Senate panel to proceed with confirmation hearing for general accused of sexual assault

Senate panel to proceed with confirmation hearing for general accused of sexual assault
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The Senate Armed Services Committee will proceed with having an open confirmation hearing for Gen. John Hyten, the nominee to be the country’s No. 2 general, who has been accused of sexual assault.

Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid Overnight Defense: Pentagon says Syrian oil revenue going to Kurdish forces | GOP chair accuses Dems of using Space Force as leverage in wall fight | Dems drop plans to seek Bolton testimony GOP senator: House Democrats using Space Force as leverage in border wall fight MORE (R-Okla.) made the announcement after the panel met with Hyten behind closed doors for three hours on Thursday.

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“We will be announcing that this afternoon, the timeline for an open confirmation hearing,” Inhofe told reporters. “There will be an open confirmation hearing.”

The committee later announced Hyten's hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Hyten, President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE’s nominee to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the current commander of U.S. Strategic Command, was accused by a female officer of making unwanted sexual advances, including kissing, hugging and rubbing up against her, in 2017 when she was one of his aides.

An Air Force investigation cleared Hyten of the allegations, but some senators have questioned how the investigation was carried out.

In a brief statement to reporters outside the hearing room Thursday, a spokesman for Hyten said only that the general appreciated the opportunity to be heard.

“Gen. Hyten thanks Chairman Inhofe and the committee members for this opportunity to share his side of the story,” U.S. Strategic Command spokesman Cmdr. Bill Clinton said.

The Armed Services Committee met with Hyten’s accuser behind closed doors Tuesday.

Senators have been tight-lipped about the contents of the closed-door meetings. 

Inhofe would not say Thursday what he thought of Hyten’s testimony, nor where he currently stands on the nomination.

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation Nuclear command nominee sidesteps questions on arms control treaties Senate Dems ask Trump Organization for information on dealings with Turkey MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters she found Hyten to be credible, but that she still has questions about the Air Force investigation. She also reiterated that she found his accuser believable.

“It’s just a really tragic situation, and it’s very emotional. Gen. Hyten is answering questions, so I thank him for doing that,” Duckworth said. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions, and maybe neither he nor the accuser can answer, but that has to do with how [the Department of Defense] treated this case.”

Duckworth added that members of both sides of the aisle are taking the situation very seriously, both because of the seriousness of the allegations and because of the job Hyten is being considered for.

“We're taking this step-by-step and being as thorough as we can on both sides of the aisle,” she said. “The accusations are very serious, in light of, especially of what’s happening in the military with the rise of military sexual trauma. I also think that the position 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.”

Updated at 6:36 p.m.