Barr says he asked Mueller: 'Bob, what's with the letter?'

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHouse gears up for Mueller testimony History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Court filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments MORE on Wednesday recalled a conversation he had with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE after the special counsel voiced concerns to him in a letter.

Barr told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was surprised Mueller didn’t simply call him over his concerns about a summary the attorney general sent to Congress in late March about the 22-month probe.

"I said, 'Bob, what’s with the letter? Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call me if there’s an issue?'" Barr said during his testimony before the panel Wednesday.

"And he said that they were concerned about the way the media was playing this and felt that it was important to get out the summaries, which they felt would put their work in proper context and avoid some of the confusion that was emerging," Barr added.


The comments come a day after it was revealed that Mueller sent Barr a letter in March taking issue with a four-page letter the attorney general sent Congress summarizing the special counsel’s principal conclusions.

"The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions," Mueller wrote in his letter to Barr on March 27.

"There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. 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," Mueller continued. 

Barr slammed the letter’s tone on Wednesday, suggesting that Mueller did not write it himself.

"The letter’s a bit snitty, and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people," he told the Judiciary panel.

Barr claimed that Mueller told him he did not believe the summary was "misleading or inaccurate" but that the press coverage did not capture the essence of his report.

The attorney general said he then sent a note to Congress emphasizing that Mueller’s full findings would be released and that his four-page letter should not be interpreted as a summary.

The attorney general wrote in his initial letter to Congress on March 24 that Mueller did not find sufficient evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 race to bring conspiracy charges.

Barr also said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinFeds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Judiciary issues blitz of subpoenas for Kushner, Sessions, Trump associates MORE reviewed Mueller’s evidence and said they did not find sufficient evidence to bring an obstruction of justice charge against the president for interfering with the probe itself.

However, Mueller’s report noted that it did not exonerate the president, outlining 10 "episodes" of potentially obstructive behavior.