1. SOUNDBITE: (English) Sen. Lindsey Graham, Chairman Judiciary Committee:
"The conclusions in your page four page summary, you think, accurately reflect his bottom line on collusion. Is that correct? (Barr: Yes) And you can read it for yourself if you got any doubt. As to obstruction of justice, were you surprised he was gonna let you decide?"
2. SOUNDBITE (English) William Barr, Attorney General:
"Yes, I was surprised. I ... I think the very purpose the function he was carrying out the prosecutor of investigative and prosecutor function is performed for the purpose of people. (Graham: How many people did he actually indict, do you know?) I can't remember off the top of my head. (Graham: It was a lot.) Yeah."
3. Mid, Barr listening
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat - Vermont:
"What really struck me, Mr. Mueller wrote that your letter threatened to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the special counsel to ensure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation. Why did you testify on April 9th that you didn't know the concerns being expressed by Mueller's team, when in fact you had heard those concerns directly from Mr. Mueller two weeks before?"
5. SOUNDBITE (English) William Barr, Attorney General:
"Mueller had never told me that that might that the expression of the findings was inaccurate. But I did then volunteer that I thought they were talking about the desire to have more information put out, but it wasn't my purpose to put out more information."
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat - Vermont:
"Mr. Barr are you ... I feel your answer was purposely misleading and I think others do too."
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat - Illinois:
"No I'll just say this Mr. Barr if you received a letter from Bob Mueller a few days after your March 24th letter, it was clear he had some general genuine concerns about what you had said and done to that point. Can we move to another topic?"
8. SOUNDBITE (English) William Barr, Attorney General:
"Yeah, his concerns was he wanted more added and I would analogize it to this my ... you know after, after a months long trial if if if I wanted to go out and get out to the public what the verdict was pending preparation of the full transcript and I'm out there saying here's the verdict. And the prosecutor comes up and taps me on the shoulder and says, 'well the verdict doesn't really fully capture all my work about that great cross examination I did or how about that third day of trial where I did that. This doesn't capture everything.' My answer to that is I'm not trying to capture everything. I'm just trying to state the verdict. (Durbin: No you just absolutely use the word summarize though in your letter.) Summarize the principal conclusions. (Durbin: Principle conclusions which most people would view as a summary.)"
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat - Rhode Island:
"You described the report in four pages and it's a 400 page report, I don't know why you're cavalier about whether it is a summary or not?"
10. SOUNDBITE (English) William Barr, Attorney General:
"Because, as I state in the letter that I'm stating the principal conclusions. You know Bob Muller is the equivalent of a U.S. attorney. He was exercising the powers of the attorney general subject to the supervision of the attorney general. He's part of the Department of Justice. His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general at that point it was my baby and I was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public. And I effectively overrode the regulations, use discretion, to lean as far forward as I could to make that public and was my decision how and when to make it public not Bob Mueller's."
Private tensions between Justice Department leaders and special counsel Robert Mueller's team broke into public view in extraordinary fashion Wednesday as Attorney General William Barr pushed back at complaints over his handling of the Trump-Russia investigation report and aimed his own criticism at the special counsel.
Testifying for the first time since releasing Mueller's report, Barr said he was surprised Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether President Donald Trump had tried to obstruct justice, and that he felt compelled to step in with his own judgment that the president had committed no crime.
The airing of disagreements over the handling of the report was notable given the highly secretive nature of the special counsel's investigation and the public appearance for at least most of the probe that the Justice Department and Mueller's team were unified in approach.
But Barr sought to minimize the rift by suggesting the special counsel's concerns were largely about process, not substance.
Barr's appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee gave him his most extensive opportunity to explain the department's actions, including his news conference held before the Mueller report's release.
It was also a forum for him to repair a reputation bruised by allegations that he's the Republican president's protector and by the emergence of a private letter from Mueller that criticized his handling of the report.
Democrats seized on the daylight between the two men to attack Barr's credibility and accuse him of unduly spinning Mueller's report in the president's favor.
They also pressed him on whether he had misled Congress last month when he professed ignorance about complaints from the special counsel's team. Barr suggested he had not lied because he was in touch with Mueller himself and not his team.
"Mr. Barr, I feel your answer was purposely misleading, and I believe others do too," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
While Democratic senators bluntly questioned Barr's actions, Republicans, in addition to defending Trump, focused on the president's 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's email and campaign practices and what they feel is a lack of investigation of them.
Neither side broke much ground Wednesday on the specifics of Mueller's investigation, though Barr did articulate a robust defense of Trump as he made clear his firm conviction that there was no prosecutable case against the president for obstruction of justice.
Barr entered the hearing on the defensive following reports hours earlier that Mueller had complained to him in a letter and over the phone about the way his findings were being portrayed.
Two days after receiving Mueller's report, Barr released a four-page letter that summarized the main findings.
Mueller's letter, dated March 27, conveys his unhappiness that Barr released what the attorney general saw as the bottom-line conclusions of the special counsel's investigation and not the introductions and executive summaries that Mueller's team had prepared and believed conveyed more nuance and context than Barr's own letter. Mueller said he had communicated the same concern two days earlier.
Once Mueller submitted his report, his work was done and the document was "my baby," Barr insisted defiantly.
"It was my decision how and when to make it public. Not Bob Mueller's," he said.