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White House jubilant after release of Mueller report summary

Trump allies seized on Barr's letter as proof the president was right all along when he insisted: "NO COLLUSION!"
Image: U.S. President Trump reacts returning to White House after Attorney General Barr reported to congress on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in Washington
Trump's first reaction after hearing the news of Attorney General William Barr's report to congressional leaders on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his campaign? "Very good."Carlos Barria / Reuters

The White House was jubilant Sunday after Attorney General William Barr released his summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's report that found no evidence President Donald Trump colluded with Russia and reached no conclusion about whether he obstructed justice.

Officials and allies of Trump were practically gloating as they seized on the summary as proof the president was right all along when he insisted, repeatedly and in all-caps: "NO COLLUSION!"

White House officials said the president was briefed by his counsel in his private quarters at Mar-a-Lago in Florida shortly after 3 p.m ET. Emmett Flood, the White House lawyer and point person for the special counsel investigation, received the summary from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Trump's first reaction? “Very good.”

He was so pleased, he dispatched his deputy press secretary to inform the media.

Aboard Air Force One minutes later, Trump made some phone calls from his cabin, read parts of the letter, watched TV and talked to his staffers who had been checking the TV networks and Twitter. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and social media guru Dan Scavino were in the cabin with the president.

By all accounts, the mood was one of elation.

“Everyone is having a great time on the plane,” a source on Air Force One texted. “Very happy, very excited.” Another official echoed: "Everybody is in a very good mood."

The report turned out better than expected in the eyes of the president's legal team, which sources say had prepared him for the worst.

Yet questions remain, including: Why did Mueller never interview the president? Will Trump direct Barr to release the full report? Does the White House support Barr possibly testifying before lawmakers? And does Barr's summary change Trump's mind about a potential pardon for his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

One White House official acknowledged that while the president has already indicated he supports making the Mueller report public, there was no denial of an ensuing battle over how much the public would get to see.

Further answers could come from Trump on Monday, when he is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office.

Image: President Donald Trump walks to Air Force One while departing West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 24, 2019.
President Donald Trump walks to Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sunday.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Trump is headed to a political rally Thursday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where plans are under way to feature the findings in his speech to supporters, a senior campaign official involved in high-level discussions told NBC News' Monica Alba.

The 2020 team also launched the first of several videos on the Mueller report. People should expect to see more videos in coming days, along with constant fundraising appeals and text messages from the campaign.

“Total. Vindication,” said a source when asked how the campaign team is feeling.

Asked whether the campaign supports making the report public, the official said it would support making “everything that can be public, public.”