WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate today where he faced heated questioning and accusations from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.
At center stage – the 400-page Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Barr's interpretation of it.
Barr's March 24th letter was not a summary of the report but a statement of the principle conclusions.
A few days after that review's release, Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote to Barr concerned that the condensed rendition created more questions than it answered.
Mueller's communication said Barr's review "did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions...There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results…This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations."
In a followup phone call, Barr says Mueller told him he did not think the 4-page review was inaccurate, but he wanted more.
Barr said, "His concern focused on his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction and he wanted more put out on that issue."
Sen. Maise Hirono (D-HI) called Barr a liar. "You lied to Congress," Hirono said. "America deserves better. You should resign."
And Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) called for Barr's resignation saying he "deliberately misled Congress about his knowledge of Mueller's concerns over his summary."
Barr's original summary had sent the president on a victory tour proclaiming, "No collusion, no obstruction!"
That led to questions of whether Barr purposely mischaracterized the report.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said, "The report outlined substantial evidence that the Trump campaign welcomed encouraged and expected to benefit electorally from Russia's interference in the election."
But Republicans insist the bottom line is the bottom line.
Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, "Ok he didn't collude with the Russians and he didn't specifically do anything to stop Mueller but attempted obstruction of a crime that never occurred I guess is sort of the new standard around here."
And Graham made clear that he feels this investigation is linked to Hilary Clinton's mishandling of proprietary emails during her time as secretary of state.
"We know that the person in charge of investigating hated Trump's guts," Graham said. "These are the people that made a decision that Clinton didn't do anything wrong and that counterintelligence of the Trump campaign was warranted."
That's something Republicans are vowing to look into after the Mueller report is put to bed.
Barr was set to testify in front of the Democrat-controlled House subcommittee Thursday, but he's now canceled that because of debate over the format of that hearing.
Still yet to be seen is whether Mueller himself will testify, though his boss William Barr says he doesn't have a problem with it.