Congresswoman who battled Nixon blasts Trump for 'abuse of power' in fight against Mueller
Elizabeth Holtzman and Katie Tur (MSNBC)

A former Democratic lawmaker said President Donald Trump had abused his power by trying to control the FBI.

The president denied Wednesday that he had attempted to obstruct justice in the Russia probe, but he also said that "fighting back" against the FBI investigation was not obstruction.

"I don't think this president gets it," former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman told MSNBC's Katie Tur. "Doesn't get it about the rule of law, he doesn't have an FBI that is protecting his back. He has an FBI that's standing up for justice for everyone. If he's fighting back against the FBI, that's an abuse of power of his office -- he doesn't have a right to do that."

Holtzman, who represented New York's 16th congressional district from 1973 to 1981, said the president had improperly injected partisan politics into law enforcement through by trying to corrupt the Justice Department.

"Well, of course it's a big deal," Holtzman said. "I had somebody working for me when I was (district attorney), my chief of staff. I'm a democrat, he worked for a Republican governor. I never knew, and I don't know to this day, what his politics are. Because if we start to have Republican and Democratic law enforcement, then we're down the road to becoming a banana republic."

Holtzman wrote a law, which expired in 1999, after the Watergate scandal to allow the appointment of an independent counsel by an appeals court, and she gained notoriety as a freshman congresswoman during the Nixon impeachment hearings.