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Billy Bush: ‘I didn’t have the strength of character’ on ‘Access Hollywood’ tape


In an in-depth interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Sunday, Billy Bush spoke out for the first time about the “Access Hollywood” tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women while Bush laughed along with Trump’s comments.

In the aftermath of the tape’s release, Bush was suspended from NBC News and then fired, getting a multimillion-dollar severance package and agreeing to a nondisclosure agreement that prevents him from talking in detail about his exit.

{mosads}He said he’s only heard the three-minute tape in which Trump talks about “grabbing” women by the genitals three times. He told THR that while he and others at NBC had known about it for a while, he watched it once three days before it became public and then twice in preparation for the interview with the magazine.

Each time he was “totally and completely gutted,” he told THR. “Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, ‘Can you believe the ratings on whatever?’ But I didn’t have the strength of character to do it.”

He said his then-15-year-old daughter called him from school when the tape leaked and asked him, “Why were you laughing at the things that he was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny.” 

“It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, ‘I have no answer for that that’s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you,'” Bush continued. 

He said his family has been supportive of him in the aftermath, though the circumstances surrounding his exit at NBC’s “Today” “hurt a lot, and I fell apart.”

He did not get to address the tape publicly on the show but told THR what he would have said if he had been able to appear that Monday.

“I would have said, ‘I am deeply embarrassed. … I am ashamed. Going forward, you can be sure that I will not participate in anything like that. And I will keep my eyes out and do what I can to stop it from happening.”

“I will admit the irony is glaring,” he said, when the interviewers pointed out that he lost his job because of the tape, while Trump became president.

He said at the time of the audio recording, in 2005, Trump “was always going to say something that was headline-worthy” and noted that “Access Hollywood” “was certainly interested in that.”

“He’s a provocateur,” Bush said. “Shocking statements flow like wine from him. And he likes to captivate an audience.”

“I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. … When he said what he said, I’d like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I’d have called the FBI.”

“If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly,” Bush added.

He also noted he has not spoken to Trump since before he announced his presidential bid and said he wouldn’t want to interview him now. 

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