It seems sexual assault allegations keep cropping up after President Donald Trump nominates someone to an important position.
Trump’s pick to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, was accused of sexual misconduct conveniently after he was nominated. Hyten is currently the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees America’s nuclear arsenal.
Once Hyten was nominated, Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser came forward to accuse him of sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions in 2017. The same major media outlets that ran with the uncorroborated and outlandish accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh picked up her story immediately, even though it was investigated twice and found unsubstantiated. The Washington Post leaped to personally interview her and publish her story and suggest the multiple investigations into her claims were not impartial and lacked credibility.
In The Wall Street Journal, retired U.S. Army major general Heidi Brown – who worked at Stratcom with Hyten and Spletstoser, wrote that the allegations “are discredited by evidence.” She wrote that she reviewed the written record and a redacted report and spoke to those involved. Her timeline of the allegations certainly calls in to question their credibility, as she said Spletstoser confided in her about many things – but never any assault from Hyten.
Brown suggests the allegations stem from an allegation against Spletstoser in late 2017 that called into question her “toxic leadership.” Hyten approved an investigation into Spletstoser, which agreed that she was abusive and threatening toward subordinates. Hyten removed Spletstoser from her position.
Later that same day, police were called to Spletstoser’s home, where she threatened to kill herself if Hyten didn’t reverse his decision within 24 hours. More from Brown:
Beginning in June 2018, Col. Spletstoser launched a dizzying avalanche of charges against her superiors, including Gen. Hyten, his chief of staff, and officers who investigated her. Gen. Hyten told the Armed Services Committee that she made 34 different accusations against the Strategic Command hierarchy: 24 against the chief of staff, six against Gen. Hyten, two against his deputy commander, and two against the officer who investigated her. Charges ranged from conduct unbecoming an officer to misuse of a government cellphone. None of these accusations involved sexual misconduct. None were substantiated by the Army’s Inspector General Office, and the Pentagon’s Inspector General Office validated that conclusion.
It wasn’t until just days after Hyten was nominated by Trump that Spletstoser accused him of sexual assault, according to Brown, adding that this wasn’t the first time Spletstoser had made sexual assault allegations against her superior.
In 2009, Spletstoser accused a commander of sexual harassment after she received a modest rating on her Officer Evaluation Report. The Army Board for the Correction of Military Records deemed her “scorched earth attack” to be mostly “patently specious” and to undermine “her overall credibility.”
The Board also wrote that Spletstoser didn’t offer any witness who could corroborate her account.
Brown also reported that the Air Force Office of Special Investigations “interviewed 53 witnesses in three countries and found insufficient evidence to justify Col. Spletstoser’s nine specific claims of sexual misconduct.” The office did, however, find contradictions. From Brown:
She claimed that damning evidence of Gen. Hyten’s misconduct would be proved by email correspondence. Investigators reviewed 195,000 unique emails preserved by Stratcom servers, and turned up nothing.
She claimed Gen. Hyten called her frequently after her dismissal. A review of phone records Col. Spletstoser provided found no calls between the two after her firing.
She said she did not want to travel with Gen. Hyten due to his unwanted sexual advances. But multiple witnesses claimed she became livid after Gen. Hyten told her she was prohibited from traveling with his detail until her toxic-leadership investigation was resolved. Her screams from his office were loud enough to alarm Gen. Hyten’s personal security detail, who rushed to the office.
Hyten survived a Senate Armed Services Committee vote on his nomination and now goes before the full Senate for confirmation. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) voted against his nomination in committee, claiming the allegations against him were “disturbing.” Gillibrand is part of the “Believe All Women” crowd, which will likely come out in force moving forward on Hyten's nomination.
Brown suggested Spletstoser be investigated for making false accusations.