President Trump said Thursday the appointment of a special counsel to probe Russia's attempted interference in the 2016 election "hurts our country terribly."

"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed up, not unified country," Trump said during lunch with a number of television anchors, according to CNN's Jake Tapper.

"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," Trump said. "And I think this shows a very divided country."

Elaborating, Trump said: "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."

On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to "oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters."

"My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted," Rosenstein said in a statement. "I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."