Before Attorney General William Barr completed his two days of Capitol Hill hearings this week, lawmakers should have secured an answer to this fundamental question about his work: Did he prematurely shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president?

It would be quite a surprise if Barr’s answer was anything but no. He tends to make nice with Congress when he sits for questions from its members and he would have no doubt told them that Mueller and he agreed that the probe had reached a natural conclusion. But the fact that his elected overseers and the public can so far only guess at Barr’s role in the closing of Mueller’s shop is a measure of how thoroughly he has shrouded the work of the team over the past three weeks and how strong a hand he has to play in the expected upcoming wars over how much of Mueller’s final report is released and how much redacted.

Besides, it is not a great leap to imagine that Barr did shutter the investigation. It is, he would surely tell you, within his rights to do so.