Gen. John Hyten appears before a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 30, 2019, for his confirmation hearing to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Latest: GOP senator questions general's judgment

July 30, 2019 - 12:10 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on confirmation hearings for Air Force Gen. John Hyten (all times local):

12:00 p.m.

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is expressing concerns about an Air Force general nominated to service as vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Ernst questioned Gen. John Hyten during an Armed Services hearing Tuesday about his handling of complaints of a "toxic" environment within his command.

The Iowa Republican said she was left with concern over Hyten's "judgment, leadership and fitness to serve" in leadership.

Ernst is a former reserve officer. She recently disclosed that she was a survivor of a college sexual assault.

Hyten's former aide, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser, alleges he subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations reviewed the matter and found insufficient evidence. Hyten denied the claims.

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10:50 a.m.

The Air Force general accused of sexual misconduct has won backing from a key Republican senator, Martha McSally, the former fighter pilot who says she was sexually assaulted. McSally said in March she was raped by a superior officer in the Air Force.

McSally said Tuesday she has "full confidence" in Gen. John Hyten. He's nominated to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Arizona Republican said she takes the allegations against Hyten "extremely seriously." But McSally said after reviewing the evidence "Hyten is innocent."

Hyten is appearing before the Armed Services committee about the charges brought by his former aide, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser. She alleges he subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations reviewed the matter and found insufficient evidence.

Hyten said the accusations are false.

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10:30 a.m.

The Air Force general nominated to the Pentagon's second-in-command is strongly denying allegations of sexual misconduct as he appears before the Senate committee considering his nomination.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten says the allegations made by a senior Army officer are "false" and were shown to be so after a "fair and extensive investigation."

Hyten made the statement after introducing his wife of 32 years and other family members attending the hearing Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Moments earlier, former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson defended the general and said the allegations were thoroughly investigated.

The Army officer says Hyten subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances by kissing, hugging and rubbing up against her in 2017 while she was one of his top aides.

Hyten has been nominated to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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10:17 a.m.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says the panel will address allegations of sexual misconduct against Air Force Gen. John Hyten, who is nominated to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., says the panel held five executive sessions to hear testimony and go over statements and thousands of pages of documents on the investigation. He says the committee will not act on unproven allegations.

The hearing is the first time that senators will publicly question Hyten about the charges brought by his former aide, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser. Hyten and Spletstoser met separately with senators in classified sessions last week.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations reviewed the matter and found insufficient evidence to charge Hyten or recommend any administrative punishment.

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12:24 a.m.

The Air Force general nominated to become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is going before the Senate Armed Services Committee amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The hearing Tuesday morning will be the first time that senators will publicly question Gen. John Hyten about the charges brought by his former aide, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser. Hyten and Spletstoser met separately with senators in classified sessions last week.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations reviewed the matter and found insufficient evidence to charge Hyten or recommend any administrative punishment.

Spletstoser told The Associated Press that Hyten subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances by kissing, hugging and rubbing up against her in 2017 while she was one of his top aides.

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This story has been corrected to show Inhofe represents Oklahoma, not Iowa.

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