President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that the appointment of a special counsel to lead an FBI investigation into Russian meddling during the presidential election "hurts our country terribly."
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will oversee the probe, which includes looking into potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials.
“I believe it hurts our country terribly,” Trump told network anchors during a luncheon Thursday afternoon at the White House. “Because it shows we’re a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country. And we have very important things to be doing right now, whether it’s trade deals, whether it’s military, whether it’s stopping nuclear — all of the things that we discussed today. And I think this shows a very divided country.”
Trump also framed the latest developments in the Russia investigation as “a pure excuse for the Democrats having lost an election that they should have easily won.”
“That’s all this is,” Trump said, insisting that the Electoral College process is “slanted so much” in Democrats’ favor. “I think it shows division, and it shows that we’re not together as a country. And I think it’s a very, very negative thing. And hopefully this can go quickly because we have to unify if we’re going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world.”
Trump fired James Comey as FBI director last week. The president interviewed four candidates to replace Comey on Wednesday, and POLITICO reported Thursday that former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman has emerged as the front-runner.
“I’m very close to choosing an FBI director,” Trump said Thursday.
The president earlier on Thursday claimed without evidence that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and political opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, committed “illegal acts” that never resulted in the appointment of a special counsel.
“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.