I’d like to suggest a new candidate to lead the Richard Nixon School for Magical Thinking. He’s someone more appropriate for today’s world of corporate cover-ups and fairy-tales. His name is Michael Millikin, and you may know him as VP and General Counsel for General Motors Co. The New York Times said that today, he came “under withering attack” at a Senate hearing but honestly, this Richard Nixon student probably thinks he did just fine. I hope he had a nice ride home on his unicorn.
He began with this: “I first learned about the Cobalt ignition switch defect during the first week of February of this year. I immediately took action. Had I learned about it earlier, I would have taken action earlier.” Unfortunately, he then needed to square that statement with a few other inconvenient truths, like the fact that multiple lawyers warned him years before of the risk of liability punitive damages over this defect. I give him props for keeping a straight face though, which he continued through other lines of inquiry. He said he had no idea why GM’s bankruptcy lawyers, whom he supervises, would not confirm as factual GM’s own internal investigation into the ignition switch (the "Valukas report"); no idea who in the legal department signed off on fraudulent death inquiry responses sent to NHTSA; who in his department signed off on deceptive technical service bulletins.
Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Mr. Millikin if he would agree to unseal secret settlements that GM had forced victims to sign. His answer: No. Would he waive the immunity shield that the company obtained from the bankruptcy court in 2009? No. Will he allow the documents available to Mr. Valukas be made public? No. Would he waive the gag order GM imposed on the 15 people who were fired from GM? No.
The company has decided to stick by Michael Millikin, with GM Chair Mary Barra today calling him a man of “tremendously high integrity,” saying she “needs him on the team.” Speaks for itself, am I right? My goodness.