In the piece, titled Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That, the former Today show cohost states that the controversial 2005 audio recording, which featured the then-Apprentice host boasting that he could grab women “by the p—sy” because he was famous, was real.
“Of course he said it,” wrote Bush, 46, who was fired by NBC in October 2016 after the tape surfaced just before the U.S. presidential election. “We laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.”
“We now know better,” Bush added.
The former Access Hollywood cohost, whose vulgar conversation with Trump, 71, was caught on a hot mic, wrote that the president “is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me.”
As previously reported, Trump publicly apologized for his derogatory comments about women after the audio surfaced last year, but the Times reported last week that the real estate mogul has told at least two people that the tape “was not authentic.”
Bush wrote that at the time of the Access Hollywood incident, he was in his first year as cohost on the show and Trump was NBC’s biggest star. He noted that he got promoted in part for his rapport with the real estate mogul.
“Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it,” he wrote. “With Mr. Trump’s outsized viewership back in 2005, everybody from Billy Bush on up to the top brass on the 52nd floor had to stroke the ego of the big cash cow along the way to higher earnings. None of us were guilty of knowingly enabling our future president. But all of us were guilty of sacrificing a bit of ourselves in the name of success.”
Bush wrote that when Trump declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015, he spoke up, saying on Access Hollywood Live that he thought it was “absurd” and he was “highly critical of the idea of a Trump presidency.”
The TV personality referenced the women who went public in the wake of the tape’s release to claim that Trump had sexually harassed or assaulted them, writing that Trump’s reported denial has likely “reopened the wounds of the women who came forward.”
“This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct. Its leader is wantonly poking the bear,” he suggested, alluding to the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal that led to several other prominent men being accused of sexual misdeeds.
He added that like them, he knows a lot about “the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump.”
Bush, who has not returned to a network job since his ouster from NBC, writes that the past year “has been an odyssey, the likes of which I hope to never face again: anger, anxiety, betrayal, humiliation, many selfish but, I hope, understandable emotions. But these have given way to light, both spiritual and intellectual. It’s been fortifying.”
He concluded, “After everything over the last year, I think I’m a better man and father to my three teenage daughters — far from perfect, but better.”
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