WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr stated in the course of his confirmation hearing in January that serving in his destiny put up became “not the same” as representing President Trump and pledged to make law enforcement selections primarily based only on statistics and the regulation — not politics.
But his handling of the document by the unique counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has known as that vow into query. On Wednesday, Mr. Barr defended his actions earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee, even as he recommends an interpretation of the evidence in a positive light for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Barr’s dueling performances underscored tensions inherent inside the position of the legal professional standard, pitting the ideal that the country’s pinnacle law enforcement professionals need to be unbiased of politics and put into effect an impartial know-how of the guideline of regulation in opposition to the fact that he or she is politically appointed and part of any management’s group.
As Democrats criticized Mr. Barr, he exuded an air of impassive self-belief and advised that their anger at him stemmed simplest from an inaccurate choice to use the prison gadget to obtain their political intention of ousting Mr. Trump from the White House.
“No, I didn’t exonerate” Mr. Trump of obstruction, Mr. Barr said at one point. “I stated that we did now not accept as true with there was sufficient proof to set up an obstruction offense, that is the task of the Justice Department.”
He cautioned Democrats to shift their attention to the presidential election: “That’s a very democratic method. But we’re out of it, and we should forestall the usage of the crook justice method as a political weapon.”
But even as Mr. Barr entreated an excessive trendy earlier than accusing political opponents of against the law, Democrats accused him of putting his finger an excessive amount of on the alternative give up of that scale — acting extra like a White House suggest, who helps the president work thru legal policy issues to reap his agenda, or even a private lawyer, who mounts a full of life defense against any accusations of wrongdoing.
“You’ve chosen to be the president’s attorney,” stated Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii.
How Mr. Barr has approached his duties — and whether or not he may be relied on by means of Americans of all political stripes to apply his energy as the kingdom’s pinnacle regulation enforcement respectable evenhandedly — was one of the foremost focuses of the listening to. Lawmakers pressed Mr. Barr approximately his March 24 letter to Congress in which he speculated to describe the bottom-line conclusions of Mr. Mueller’s document, weeks earlier than he allowed lawmakers and the public to read a redacted version of the real record.
Did Mr. Barr use his powers neutrally, giving a sincere broking’s account of Mr. Mueller’s findings to inform the general public what it needed to know at the same time as the method of redacting sure quantities of the actual document unfolded? Or did he abuse them to distort public expertise in a way that created a more favorable impression for the president and allow that version of activities to harden?
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The file gave Mr. Barr’s critics fodder to accuse him of using his position to do the president a political choice. As the recipient of Mr. Mueller’s document, Mr. Barr turned into in a function to place forth a sanitized version — the usage of a lot of Mr. Mueller’s phrases out of context in a way that made the president look better.

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