An Army colonel accusing President Trump’s nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of sexual abuse never once mentioned the alleged assaults during an investigation of her for toxic leadership that occurred during the same time as the alleged assaults, according to a retired military officer familiar with the investigation.
After Trump announced in April that he picked Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, to become the No. 2 military officer in the nation, the Army colonel came forward with allegations that he had sexually abused her on more than a half dozen occasions while she worked for him at Stratcom from late 2016 to early 2018.
She claimed that in December 2017, in a hotel room at an annual defense forum in California, that he began “kissing her aggressively and grinding against her body until he ejaculated,” according to the Washington Post. She told the Post, “I felt really violated and really disappointed.”
However, when she was interviewed for about an hour by an investigator in January 2018 — less than a month after the alleged incident — as part of a then-ongoing investigation into allegations she was a toxic leader, she never once mentioned any kind of sexual abuse from Hyten — even when discussing the December 2017 trip to California.
She “never mentioned a word about anything happening at that time,” said the retired military officer, who worked at Stratcom from 2017 to 2019.
“She knew she was under investigation, and if she was trying to save herself that would have been the time to make an allegation and she didn’t,” the retired officer said.
In addition, investigators found that she had expressed anger on a “couple of occasions” that she was not booked in the same hotel as Hyten on travel.
“She traveled with him frequently, and I’m wondering, OK, if she’s being mistreated by him, why is she fighting to stay in the same hotel as him? So in my brain, she’s got a credibility problem,” the retired officer said.
The Army colonel ran the commander’s action group for Hyten, which is the general’s personal staff who make his travel arrangements, write speeches, and handle strategic communications and engagements with allies. Commanders rely heavily on their CAGs, who travel with them frequently.
More than 30 people, including men and women who worked with the Army colonel and also traveled with Hyten, were interviewed as part of the investigation, and almost all had negative things to say about her, according to the retired officer.
According to the retired officer, the allegations of toxic leadership against the Army colonel were substantiated, and she was fired. She was given a choice to retire or leave Stratcom entirely. She at first decided to retire but changed her mind and moved to another agency at the Defense Department.
It was not until this April, after Trump’s nomination of Hyten to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, did the Army colonel begin alleging that he had sexually abused her, prompting an investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
The Senate Armed Services Committee, which votes to advance defense and military nominations to the Senate floor, agreed to hold on his nomination until the investigation was completed.
The investigation wrapped up earlier this month. However, immediately after senators on the committee were briefed of the investigation’s results on July 10, letters from committee members Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) leaked to the media that expressed concern over why Hyten was not suspended as Stratcom commander while he was under investigation, and why an Air Force general junior to Hyten was chosen to investigate him.
The Army colonel told the Post that she did not tell anyone about what had allegedly happened because “she thought she could manage the situation and she believed that because Hyten planned to retire after his Strategic Command assignment, there would be no further chance of other subordinates facing similar conduct.”
“I was ready to go to my grave with this because I didn’t want to have to deal with it,” she told the Post. She said that changed when she learned Trump had nominated Hyten for a new position.
“I saw that nomination come out and I freaked out,” she said. “I was like I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t and this happens to somebody else.” She added: “So that was a no-brainer for me.”
The retired officer said the Army general who led the investigation into her also ended up under investigation but was allegedly exonerated. “We were concerned about revenge,” the retired officer said.
“In the political environment that we live in now, if you say anything about an accuser, you’re immediately radioactive, because you’re attacking the accuser. But I would counter with, ‘Where’s Gen. Hyten’s due process?’”
“She’s weaponized the Me Too movement, and it’s not fair, there’s no repercussions for her and it’s just not right,” the retired officer said. “Gen. Hyten deserves to have his side of this heard.”
Another source familiar with both the investigations into the Army colonel’s toxic leadership and Hyten’s alleged sexual abuse told Breitbart News that after the Army colonel was fired in February 2018, she was “desperate to get in touch” with Hyten to “clear things up.”
After staff barred her from speaking to him, she then alleged she was wrongfully terminated, the source said. That allegation that she was wrongfully terminated came back unsubstantiated, according to the source.
“If that sidelines him that would be horrible for our nation,” the source said. “I don’t think they know she’s a repeat offender of accusing him over and over and over over the last nine months.”
Breitbart News has requested documents from the investigation into the Army colonel’s toxic leadership.
A spokesman for Stratcom said in a statement after the first reports of the allegations against Hyten surfaced: “U.S. Strategic Command fully cooperated with the investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. According to Air Force officials, there was insufficient evidence to support any finding of misconduct on the part of Gen Hyten.”
Air Force Col. DeDe Halfhill, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told the AP that Hyten’s nomination remained on course. “With more than 38 years of service to our nation, General Hyten has proven himself to be a principled and dedicated patriot,” she said.
A senior Air Force official told the AP investigators went through 10,000 pages of documents, conducted interviews with as many as 50 people, and “pursued every lead but did not uncover evidence to support the allegations.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told reporters last week he does not think the allegations would derail Hyten’s nomination. “They had a thorough hearing on that and they came to the conclusion that there’s no wrongdoing, there’s no verification on the accusations against him,” he told reporters on July 11.
When asked if his nomination was in trouble, Inhofe responded, “I assume it’s not, because he was given a clean bill of health and there is not anything behind the accusations that require any kind of action.”
His office did not respond to a query on Friday over the status of Hyten’s nomination.
The Army colonel on Tuesday testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed-doors from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., according to Defense News. She has chosen to remain anonymous to date, although she has also spoken to several media outlets.
Duckworth told reporters after the testimony that she found the woman to be credible and that the testimony raised new questions about the military investigation that cleared Hyten.
“I’m pleased she was allowed to speak,” said Duckworth. “I thought she conducted herself very professionally, and she was very believable.”