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President Trump said the U.S. will be hurt by the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to look into Russian influence in the 2016 election.
“I believe it hurts our country terribly,” said Trump in a quote provided by NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie, “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.”
[ Related: 10 things to know about Robert Mueller ]
Guthrie was one of a group of news anchors who met with Trump at the White House Thursday. Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Wednesday that Mueller would lead an independent investigation into the election and reported contacts between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign, including fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Earlier Thursday, Trump said he was the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”
According to Guthrie’s transcript, Trump said the special prosecutor was appointed because Democrats were still upset about losing.
“It also happens to be a pure excuse for the Democrats having lost an election that they should have easily won because of the Electoral College being slanted so much in their way,” said Trump. “That’s all this is. 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 show unity if we’re going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world.”
In the last two weeks, Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey and given previously classified information to Russian officials during a White House meeting. Earlier this week, multiple outlets reported that during a private meeting in February, Trump asked Comey to stop looking into Flynn’s ties to Russia.