Donna Brazile compares party infighting to "family squabble" during 2016 campaign

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile appears to be backtracking after claims she made in her forthcoming book about Hillary Clinton and her campaign's "control" over the DNC in 2016, comparing the party infighting to a "family squabble."

"My emotions are my emotions but there's no question I was very upset at the time, because look, I'm chair of the party, I have a lot of skin in the game," Brazile told "CBS This Morning" in defense of her accusations against the Clinton campaign. 

She added, "What I wanted the voters to understand and the people who support the Democratic party is that our party was under attack, we had to deal with a hostile foreign government, the hacking, and at same time, like most campaigns, you have family squabbles, I fought with my family."

Brazile conceded, however, that Clinton had rescued the DNC from massive amounts debt. 

"Hilary Clinton did something for the party that everyone should understand, the party was broke and she gave the party a lifeline of resources in order for us to compete and that's what she did for the general election," she said. 

Brazile's comments to CBS come after excerpts released of her book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House," reveal that she believed the election was rigged in favor of Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Brazile told CBS that she did in fact consider it a "fair fight" between candidates Sanders and Clinton, saying there was "no question Clinton ran a very strong campaign," but in excerpts from her upcoming book featured in Politico Thursday, Brazile claims the DNC and Clinton came to an unethical agreement to stabilize the party's finances

Brazile claimed the election was unfair because the Clinton campaign's financing of the party from the early days of the election, giving it a preferred status with the DNC. 

"My purpose into looking at what happened was to find out if anything happened that we did not anticipate and what I learned was there was a memorandum of understanding in addition to the joint fundraising agreement that hampered the DNC's ability to control its communication and some of its financial investments," Brazile said. 

"I had two choices to make, and I think Bernie agreed with me, one was to expose it and expunge it and then disrupt the party in September of 2016, or wait until the election was over with," she added. 

Brazile maintains that she had "no idea" there was a separate memorandum that "gave one candidate control over select and staff in three or four departments." However, she again backtracked her claims that the election was rigged, saying she found "no evidence" of such rigging after her own investigation. 

Members of the Clinton campaign have since penned a letter responding to Brazile's claims, saying "Donna came in to take over the DNC at a very difficult time. We were grateful to her for doing so. She is a longtime friend and colleague of many of us and has been an important leader in our party. But we do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book."

Brazile says she won't deny that she was upset during the campaign and in the fallout after the election, but says she was upset because of the DNC's hacking carried out by Russians infiltrators, something she said was her "job to protect."

"There's no question that I was upset, I was upset because we were hacked, this country was hacked by a foreign country, a hostile country. We were torn apart," she said. 

Brazile says in response to criticism of her new book, she simply wanted to "tell my truth" and hopes readers take a lesson from her story for future elections. 

"This is my story and I hope we take the threat of hacking seriously and we will prepare for the next election," she said.

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital