20190726_wash_hyten

Gen. John Hyten

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the military’s No. 2 officer will be scheduled for a public confirmation hearing despite sexual misconduct allegations against him, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday.

The confirmation hearing for Air Force Gen. John Hyten could happen as soon as next week.

Hyten, who was nominated to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in April, is in charge of the nation’s nuclear arsenal as head of U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha.

The Armed Services chairman, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., spoke of his plan after a closed-door meeting with Hyten on Thursday in which they discussed the allegations. The panel’s members met earlier with Hyten’s accuser, and many are still weighing the competing stories.

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“I’m trying to determine what the facts are, and that’s very much in contention,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who has said he finds the accuser to be credible. “The factual differences are very stark.”

The public hearing is expected to be dominated by questions about the allegations that Hyten made sexually abusive contact with his accuser, an Army colonel, on more than a half-dozen occasions, including in a California hotel room during the Reagan National Defense Forum in December 2017.

Hyten has denied the allegations.

The colonel was relieved of her duties while serving on Hyten’s staff after being accused of creating a toxic work environment.

The Air Force criminal investigative services examined the allegations against Hyten and shared the findings with the Armed Services Committee — to mixed reviews from its members.

Some senators questioned whether the process was fair to the accuser, but Inhofe has said he thought that the inquiry was “very thorough.”

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