Grassley suggested AIG executives "follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide."
Grassley's harsh comments came Monday during an interview with radio station WMT in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The senator said it galled him AIG plans to pay its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money.
Grassley spokesman Casey Mills later said the senator was speaking metaphorically when he suggested the executives kill themselves," The Des Moines (Iowa) Register reported Tuesday.
"Senator Grassley has said for some time now that generally speaking, executives who make a mess of their companies should apologize, as Japanese executives do," Mills said. "He says the Japanese might even go so far as to commit suicide but he doesn't want U.S. executives to do that."