McCaskill: ‘There really weren’t answers’ in GM hearing

The chairwoman of the Senate committee that grilled General Motors CEO Mary Barra about her company’s recall of more than a million cars said Thursday she was not satisfied with the answers she received.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she “of course” was not happy with Barra’s responses during a two-hour hearing that was often testy.

“Oh, of course not,” McCaskill said when Mitchell asked if she was satisfied with what she heard from Barra. “Frankly, there really weren't answers.”

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Barra, who is in her first year at the helm of GM, was making her first appearances before lawmakers this week after GM recalled more than 1.6 million of its cars that had a faulty ignition switch. She repeatedly sought to put distance between herself and decisions that were made at the Detroit-based automaker before she became CEO.

McCaskill said Thursday that she did not accept Barra’s statements about GM being different under her leadership, however.

“I think that Mary Barra is sincere in wanting to get to the bottom of it,” the Missouri senator said. “But my questions centered around the fact that she has been a top executive at that company for a long time, and that they knew — someone at that company knew for over a decade and someone in that company purposely changed out a part without changing its number in order to avoid being detected that there was a defective part in these cars. And finally, that last year, they were confronted with this evidence in a deposition and it took them nine months to get these cars off the road.”

The recalled cars are mostly models made between 2004-2010 that have been found to abruptly shut off or have their airbags disabled when the vehicles' ignition switches are used with heavy objects such as key chains.

Barra pointed out in her testimony before lawmakers in the House and Senate this week that most of the recalled cars were produced before she became the first female CEO of the company in January.

Lawmakers in both parties accused GM of purposely delaying the recalls of the vehicles to avoid paying for repairs, however.

McCaskill said Thursday that “there is, I think, a terribly irresponsible behavior and it may be criminal behavior. 

“We're going to stay on this,” McCaskill said. “[Barra] committed to coming back in front of the committee after their investigation is complete. And we've got other people we need to hear from also.”