General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra stood by the company’s top lawyer, saying she had no plans to fire him after he was harshly criticized Thursday by a Senate panel investigating GM’s delayed ignition switch recall.
In what was the fourth — and possibly final — congressional hearing into GM’s recall of 2.6 million cars linked to at least 13 deaths, Barra offered a strong defense of Michael Millikin, who has worked for the company for 37 years and been general counsel since 2009.
“How in the world in the aftermath of (the GM internal) report did Michael Millikin keep his job? This is either gross negligence or gross incompetence on the part of a lawyer,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. She headed the Senate Commerce panel hearing testimony from Barra, Millikin, Delphi Automotive CEO Rodney O’Neal, compensation adviser Ken Feinberg and Anton Valukas, the outside attorney who led GM’s internal investigation.
GM’s culture of “lawyering up ... killed innocent customers of General Motors,” McCaskill added. “I think the failure of this legal department is stunning.”