In the morning, it was a time for common ground. On Friday, May 22, District Mayor Marion Barry and U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova solemnly attended the funeral of slain D.C. police officer Robert Remington at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Gaithersburg.

That afternoon was a different story.

A flurry of 15 subpoenas and four searches by FBI agents probing D.C. government contracting stunned Barry and his administration, sending the mayor unsteadily into a Memorial Day weekend trying to assess the damage around him.

As diGenova orchestrated the afternoon's events, Barry seemed off balance. Even the mayor's aides suggest that he showed poor judgment in his efforts to grapple with the federal probe by meeting privately with at least two principal figures named in it.

Interviews with several Barry administration insiders about the events of the past week show there is still some nervousness about how the mayor is handling himself. It was not until midweek that Barry appeared to be moving to regain control, launching a counterattack on prosecutors, engaging in campaign-style interviews and keeping to a visible public schedule to show that his government was up and running.

"We thought we were taking a beating in the press," said one official involved in strategy sessions that led to two Barry news conferences in three days. "We weren't happy about that, but we hadn't been up to bat . . . {and} we didn't want to even appear paralyzed."

Some aides worry that the federal investigation strikes at the heart of Barry's contention that he is running a government with integrity and that the instances of wrongdoing that plagued his second term would not dominate his third. Also, it does not help Barry's personal image, which suffered recently with news reports about his embarrassing encounter with a part-time model.

In addition to those problems, Barry early in his third term has had to face a flow of bad publicity over routine city services and policy issues, such as snow removal, ambulance service, antidrug initiatives, faltering proposals to raise income taxes and questions about his frequent travel out of town.

Overall, aides fear, the problems are overshadowing Barry's accomplishments, including the appointment of new aides and reassignments that, if given enough time, could help the mayor improve his administration's image.

One aide stressed that, overall, the government is functioning well. But the official added, "No one is sure how this will play out. Everyone is taking a wait-and-see attitude."

On the first day, Barry and his aides scrambled to find out what was happening as the news media began to learn the scope of the investigation and descended on the District Building.

"Friday, we just didn't know what was going on," said Carol B. Thompson, deputy mayor for economic development and Barry's former chief of staff. "You all {the media} were standing around in the hallway asking us . . . . We didn't know." Thompson, like other top aides, largely kept to routine schedules, trying to keep the investigation in perspective.

Late that day, Barry avoided reporters but issued a brief statement pledging to cooperate with authorities. On the eve of a holiday weekend, with many staff members heading out of town, little could be done immediately.

"We made a feeble effort, but soon . . . we stopped" trying to collect data, said Frederick D. Cooke Jr., the city's new corporation counsel, who has emerged as a low-key but tough player in the government. "If there are any bad actors here, let's burn them," Cooke said in an interview. He said he hoped that diGenova would move quickly to bring indictments, if any, to remove the cloud over the rest of city government.

No one involved in the case has been charged. "Meanwhile, we're all suspects," Cooke said.

Barry avoided the news media over the long weekend and did not meet with his legal counsel, Herbert O. Reid Sr., until Tuesday, one informed source said. But Barry did meet privately in his office with T. Conrad Monts, one of the contractors involved in the investigation.

Also, Barry visited the house of David E. Rivers, a friend and senior aide who was implicated in the probe after FBI agents searched Rivers' house. Also, Barry and Rivers were spotted taking a private Memorial Day cruise with two other persons on a boat called the Love Story III. Officials groaned when a photograph of the two was published.

Barry has distanced himself from some top officials who ran into trouble, but he continues to speak warmly of Rivers. He said that during their Memorial Day meeting they did not discuss Rivers' involvement in the case.

However, Barry's meetings with Monts and Rivers left many officials shaking their heads, and some said Barry at least should have considered the how his actions would look.

On Tuesday, Barry met with his advisers, who urged him to take positive actions and hold a news conference. The mayor stressed that the investigation was narrow in scope -- just a few contracts out of thousands -- and that the probe did not involve him personally.

That first news conference was flawed, some said, because Barry was not ready to discuss the job status of Rivers, the city's chief financial officer, who that day was in New York preparing a city bond issue.

Although it was unclear how much Barry knew about Rivers' involvement, several top aides said they were surprised to learn -- just minutes before the news conference -- that the FBI search of Rivers' house had reportedly turned up potentially damaging evidence, including pairs of boots marked with an undercover agent's identification number, a handgun, and possible traces of illegal drugs.

The news conference was delayed nearly an hour as Cooke and other advisers hurriedly discussed the Rivers information. Barry then declined to answer questions about Rivers, saying he and city lawyers would have to review Rivers' status.

The next day, Barry's assertion that the probe in no way involved him personally became inoperative: He had to acknowledge that a subpoena to his office had specifically requested that he turn over two pairs of shoes that may be linked to the investigation.

By then it had become clear, officials said, that Barry would hold another news conference and that Rivers would either voluntarily or involuntarily go on administrative leave. After returning to Washington from New York on Wednesday, Rivers asked to go on leave. "We were relieved," said one official.

Barry's staff scheduled two news conferences for Thursday, one for Rivers in his office down the hall from Barry, and one for the mayor shortly afterward in his conference room. "They wanted to keep them separate," said one Barry assistant.

Some of Barry's actions have raised concerns among his staff that the mayor still is not dealing fully with the fallout from the investigation, despite his characterization of his Thursday news conference as an attempt at "full and complete disclosure."

For example, last week Barry strongly suggested in two interviews that he barely knew Warren E. Barge Jr., the contractor who was lured into the FBI "sting" operation. The mayor told one television station that Barge "showed up uninvited" at a Barry campaign fund-raiser in Atlanta last fall. In fact, Barge was one of seven sponsors of the event. City sources close to the investigation said Barge is believed to be the source of at least one pair of shoes that federal authorities are seeking from Barry.

Among the officials who helped Barry decide strategy during the past week were Reid, Cooke, Thompson, City Administrator Thomas M. Downs, special assistant Tina Smith and Dwight S. Cropp, the director of intergovernmental relations, who was named to take over some of Rivers' duties of secretary of the District.

Reid, a mild-mannered Howard University law professor, generally is viewed as the behind-the-scenes authority in charge of assessing the damage to Barry and his administration and how he should deal with it. Reid is expected go into U.S. District Court today to file protests over how diGenova is conducting the investigation.

Whatever advice Barry is receiving, some members of his staff said the situation demonstrates again that the mayor suffers from the loss of Ivanhoe Donaldson, his longtime friend and adviser who could direct him and, when necessary, talk back to him. Donaldson pleaded guilty to theft from government last year and is serving a prison sentence in Virginia.

"Those other people, good as they are individually, are not political, not like Donaldson," one staff member said, suggesting that Barry often appears personally and politically "rudderless" without Donaldson.

Late in the week, Barry appeared to be regaining his footing, going on regularly scheduled television and radio programs and appearing at receptions and high school graduations. Effi Barry, who generally keeps a separate schedule from her husband, began showing up with him and sat in on both news conferences.

In a rare television interview, Effi Barry sat with her husband on a couch in the mayor's office Friday night and explained to WJLA-TV (Channel 7) why she was appearing with the mayor:

"That's the role and responsibility of a wife, to stand by her man and say, 'Hey, he might not be perfect, but he's a nice guy.' You know, just give him a break."