Billy Bush is firing back at President Donald Trump, who, according to some reports, has questioned the authenticity of the now infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape that was leaked weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
On Sunday, The New York Times published a frank essay by Bush, a former “Access Hollywood” host, titled, “Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That.”
Bush starts off by writing, “He said it. ‘Grab ’em by the p—–.’”
In the tape, Trump can be heard talking about grabbing women by the genitals and remarking how he can “just start kissing” women. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump adds in the 12-year-old tape.
After it was leaked, Trump, then the GOP presidential nominee, apologized and called the conversation between him and Bush “locker room talk.”
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 4, 2017
Bush, who was fired in 2016 shortly after the tape became public, recounts his time at NBC and his banter with Trump, who was then the host of one of the highest-rated reality shows on television.
“President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history … This has hit a raw nerve in me,” Bush writes.
ABC News confirmed via sources last week that President Trump has privately questioned the authenticity of the tape. Trump has repeated the claim to advisers in recent weeks and even a Republican senator earlier this year, sources said.
“Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator,” Bush writes, explaining that he and everyone on the bus back then thought Trump was just performing. “We now know better,” Bush adds, writing that he now believes the women who have come forward accusing Trump of sexual harassment and misconduct.
The beleaguered journalist also looks inward in his piece, doing his best to explain his involvement in the video.
“The key to succeeding in my line of work was establishing a strong rapport with celebrities. I did that, and was rewarded for it. My segments with Donald Trump when I was just a correspondent were part of the reason I got promoted,” he wrote. “Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it.”
Bush called the past year “an odyssey” and after everything that transpired “I think I’m a better man and father to my three teenage daughters — far from perfect, but better.”
Current “Access Hollywood” host Natalie Morales spoke out last week on Trump’s alleged denial, telling viewers, “Let us make this perfectly clear, the tape is very real … He said every one of those words.”
A request for comment from The White House about the essay was not immediately returned to ABC News.
SOURCE: ABC News – Michael Rothman, Mick Stingley, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci