April 2 - General Motors CEO Mary Barra comes under withering attack during a U.S. Senate hearing into GM's decade-long failure to notify the public about defective parts linked to fatal crashes. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: General Motors came under withering attack for its decade-long failure to notify the public about defective parts linked to fatal crashes, as a U.S. Senate hearing opened on Wednesday (April 2) with accusations that the company fostered "a culture of cover-up." Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill rebutted some of GM CEO Mary Barra's testimony to a House of Representatives panel on Tuesday that her company had recently cleaned up its act. "That is incredibly frustrating to me that you wouldn't have a simple timeline of what happened," said the Missouri senator, apparently in reference to the time at which Ms. Barra first became aware of the defective parts. McCaskill chairs a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection and product safety that is investigating GM. Barra, who was promoted to CEO in January, said in her prepared testimony: "Whatever mistakes were made in the past, we will not shirk from our responsibilities now and in the future. Today's GM will do the right thing. This begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who's been affected by this recall." Committees in the House and Senate are investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall 2.6 million cars that could have faulty ignition switches and may have contributed to at least 13 deaths. The largest U.S. automaker also faces a criminal probe by the Department of Justice. Those switches, without warning, can make vehicle engines stall during operation and stop air bags from deploying and power steering and power brakes from operating. McCaskill said that "a culture of cover-up" caused a GM engineer to deliver untruthful testimony about his knowledge of the defective ignition switch, as part of a lawsuit related to a fatal 2010 crash in Georgia. As lawmakers over the past two days have pressed Barra for answers on who at GM was responsible for the company's slow response, Barra has referred repeatedly to an internal investigation of the problem that is under way. Barra told senators the internal probe is "well along," adding that GM hopes to wrap it up in 45-60 days.