You’ve no doubt heard the gross proclamations by now.
On Oct. 7 of last year, The Washington Post released a leaked video of a hot-mic conversation from 2005 between then reality-TV host Donald Trump and Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush.
In the video, Trump—fresh off his wedding to current first lady Melania—brags about his numerous attempts to seduce Bush’s Access co-host Nancy O’Dell. “I did try and fuck her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture,” Trump recalled. “I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’ I took her [for] furniture—I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
Later on in their vulgar chat, while addressing Arianne Zucker, the Days of Our Lives actress they were about to meet, Trump says, “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Despite candidate Trump issuing a 90-second confession/apology video for the Access Hollywood tape, wherein he said, “I’ve said some things that I regret and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them,” The New York Times recently reported that President Trump has been questioning whether the voice on the tape is his.
So Bush, who was fired from NBC for cackling along to Trump’s boasts, felt it was the perfect time for a comeback. First Bush penned an op-ed in the Times asserting “of course he said it,” while invoking the 20 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault. Then Bush sat down for a much-ballyhooed interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
The interview between Colbert and Bush began with Bush saying, in jest, “By the way, I would also like to say that’s not me on the bus. You don’t get to say that, because I was there and the last 14 months of my life I’ve been dealing with it, and you dealt with it for 14 minutes and ended up being the president.”
This led Colbert to note that while Bush’s piece is “a well-written editorial,” the former Access Hollywood co-host “couldn’t have printed this, no one would have printed this, unless this story would have come back around again by Donald Trump privately denying it.”
“[Trump] last week, for some reason, came out with, ‘That’s not my voice on the tape.’ Like I said, you can’t say that. That is your voice, you were there, that’s your voice on the tape,” said Bush. “But then you’ve got 20 women…[who] came out with their names, and told their detailed accounts. So when he said this, it infuriated me on a personal front, and then I ended up Googling and I read an article with all of these women’s accounts. Because when that article first came out, it was 13 days after I’d been fired, so I was in my own personal shock fight-or-flight, and so I never really read it all the way, and as I read these I said, 20 women don’t get together and say, ‘Hey, you know what would be really fun? Let’s take down a powerful guy together. Ha-ha.’ No, they don’t. And I said, OK, you’re reopening wounds on them, too. Enough’s enough. Stop playing around with people’s lives. That upset me. So I wrote.”
Colbert then played the “grab ’em by the pussy” portion of the Access Hollywood tape, where Trump brags about his ability to sexually assault women at will due to his celebrity. Then Colbert asked Bush what he felt when he heard the leaked tape.
“Well, the first time I ever heard it was three days before it leaked,” offered Bush. “It was like a gut punch. It’s a gut punch now. It will always be. At the time, you know, it was 2005 and his ratings were through the roof and he was the big star of NBC, and I sort of equated what he was saying to some kind of crass stand-up act, like an Andrew Dice Clay performance.”
“But the camera wasn’t on him. Why did it seem like a performance to you?” asked Colbert.
“Because he was just regaling the seven guys on there, and doing his bit. If I thought there was a man detailing a sexual-assault strategy to me, I would have called the FBI, not just reported it to my executive producer,” Bush replied.
What Colbert failed to ask is why Bush so giddily played along—at times even goading Trump—to speak ill of his co-host, Nancy O’Dell, and why Bush didn’t opt to defend his colleague against Trump’s sexist slander. He also failed to question exactly how the Access Hollywood tape made it out to the public, because it wasn’t Bush who leaked the video or even had designs to leak it.
On the contrary, as Page Six reported last year, “Billy Bush brazenly bragged to NBC staff about the vulgar Donald Trump tape while covering the Olympics in Rio… the shamed Today host boasted at a party in August that he had a ‘tape of Trump being a real dog,’ prompting staffers at Access Hollywood to track it down.”
The report, citing “multiple sources,” continued: “Bush never told NBC News brass about the tape when he joined Today, and they’re not happy about it. ‘Billy was bragging about the tape to other NBC staff while in Rio. If he knew about the tape, and remembered the full extent of such an explosive conversation with a presidential candidate and didn’t disclose that to NBC News, that is a very, very serious problem.’”
During the latter portion of his Late Show interview, Colbert asked about the sexual-assault allegations against Matt Lauer—a question that Bush brushed off. Bush did admit, however, that his former Today colleague personally vouched for him with NBC brass following the tape leak, saying, “[Lauer] told me that he went privately to the bosses and took that line, and I told him that I appreciated it, and I accepted it and thanked him.”
Both Bush—and Colbert—concluded their chat with four words: “Women must be believed.”