Trump reaction to special counsel measured, says White House

White House Counsel Don McGahn delivered the news to the president.

— -- The White House had "absolutely no indication" that the Justice Department was going to appoint a special counsel, Robert Mueller, and got a heads up of just 30 minutes before the news broke Wednesday evening, according to a senior White House official.

The FBI's Russia probe has long been a source of contention in the White House and among officials on the Hill and the chorus to appoint a special prosecutor or convene an independent commission has been growing louder in recent days.

According to the senior official with knowledge of the situation, Trump explained how the administration should respond and told his aides that it was an opportunity to focus on their agenda.

The president told them what he wanted to say in a statement, the aides drafted the statement and the president revised it before it was released.

It read, in part, "As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know -- there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly."

The official indicated that, in some ways, the staff feels united by Mueller's appointment.