President Donald Trump continued to criticize a decision by the Justice Department to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the agency’s investigation into Russia on Thursday, saying “it hurts this country terribly.”
The remarks, delivered during a luncheon with television news anchors, including PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, came the day after Mueller was chosen to take over the investigation, which examines Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections as well as possible ties to Trump’s campaign.
Former FBI Director James Comey, who had previously led the investigation, was fired by Trump on May 9.
“I think this shows a very divided country,” Trump said at the luncheon. “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. 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 a series of tweets earlier Thursday morning, Trump called the appointment of a special counsel ‘the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!’
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
The remarks come as Trump prepares to leave Friday for his first foreign trip as president: a nine-day tour that will take him through five cities.
Meanwhile, at home, other investigations into Russia will move forward. The House Intelligence Committee asked Thursday for more documents related to Comey’s firing.
Trump told the reporters at Thursday’s luncheon that “we are very, very close to announcing” a new FBI director. On Wednesday, the president reportedly interviewed four candidates for Comey’s former position at the White House.