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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was another high-stakes Rorschach test of Washington's views about special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

The bottom line: Both parties will come out of this hearing feeling like they hit their talking points well, but Barr also has to feel good about his performance. This isn't his first rodeo as attorney general. He's poised in the hot seat and escaped a brutal five-hour day with no major slip-ups all as he remained unrepentant about his work on the Mueller report.

  • Democrats did their best to pick apart Barr's decision not to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told him, "You’ve chosen to be the president’s lawyer and side with him over the interests of the American people."
  • Republicans praised Barr's handling of the report and tried to flip the script by questioning the basis for the FBI's counterintelligence investigation — citing issues from the Steele dossier to FISA applications — that kicked off the question of Russian collusion.

Barr defended himself against the latest bombshell surrounding his work, yesterday's revelation of a letter that Mueller had sent to the attorney general objecting to how his 4-page summary of the report had characterized its contents.

  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) accused Barr of "masterful hair-splitting" as he grilled him for not disclosing the letter's existence during an appearance before the House Appropriations Committee last month.
  • The attorney general argued that the ultimate release of the entire 448-page document to the public rendered Mueller's initial concerns moot: "That's why I think this whole thing is sort of mind-bendingly bizarre."
  • He added near the hearing's end, "The letter is a bit snitty, and I think it was probably written by a member of [Mueller's] staff."

Addressing his decision not to proceed with obstruction charges against Trump, Barr said that if Mueller felt as if he could not make a prosecutorial decision on the issue, then he "shouldn't have investigated it. That was the time to pull up."

  • "I didn't exonerate. I said that we did not believe there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction offense, which is the job of the Justice Department."

What's next: Barr has another big day tomorrow in front of the House Judiciary Committee, which voted today to allow committee lawyers to question him. However, he's previously threatened to not show up should it move forward with that format.

Go deeper: Full recap of today's testimony

Go deeper

Gaming CEO calls on industry to help fight climate change

"Catalyst Black." Screenshot: Super Evil Megacorp

Gaming CEO Kristian Segerstrale is calling on leaders in his industry to take action on climate change, after completing a $1.4 million fundraising campaign this summer.

Why it matters: Gaming's pandemic-fueled boom creates an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to do some good.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Foreign travelers will be allowed entry to the U.S. beginning Nov. 8 if they can provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with a shot authorized by the World Health Organization and a negative test within three days of departure, the White House announced Monday.

Why it matters: The updated guidance, which exempts children under the age of 18 from the vaccine requirement, is intended to provide further clarity for airlines and foreign nationals who have been restricted from traveling to the U.S. since early 2020.

4 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.