Billy Bush took to Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” Monday night to offer a mea culpa about past behavior and drive home the points he made in a surprise New York Times editorial piece published earlier in the day.
The former “Access Hollywood” and “Today” anchor told the late-night host he had grown frustrated and upset after hearing that President Donald Trump had recently made statements disavowing that it was his voice heard by millions who viewed a 2005 outtake of an “Access Hollywood” tape on which Trump claims to harass women sexually. “For some reason, he came out with ‘That’s not my voice.'” Bush told Colbert in a snippet of the interview previewed by CBS Monday evening. “That is your voice. You were there. I was there. That’s your voice on the tape.”
“Enough’s enough,” said Bush. “Stop playing around with people’s lives.”
His remarks to Colbert echoed the piece he wrote for the Times. ““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 wrote. “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.”
The “Access Hollywood” tape, which offered a recording of Trump bragging to Bush about soliciting sexual attention from women, even assaulting them to do so, had faded away from public discourse after Trump was elected to the White House in 2016. But for Bush, the tape will be hard to forget. In the wake of the discovery of the tape, Bush was let go from “Today” just weeks after joining the program in its 9 a.m. hour.
Bush told Colbert he wished he had gotten a chance to address “Today” viewers and explain his behavior. He noted the country had been going through an “emotional time” and told Colbert his former bosses had expressed to him the idea that they may have moved too quickly to remove him from the show. He also told Colbert that Matt Lauer had told him he had tried to work behind the scenes to keep Bush on the show, but was not able to do so. “We had a conversation about that and he told me that he went privately to the bosses and took that line,” Bush recounted.
Bush said part of the reason for his reaction to Trump’s words had to do with the fact that the former real-estate mogul was a powerful part of NBC, owing to the success of his series “The Apprentice.”
“”Everybody had to kiss the ring of Donald because he was making the big money for NBC at the time,” Bush told Colbert, noting he and crew members thought Trump was doing an act of some sort. “If I had thought there was a man detailing a sexual assault strategy to me, I would have contacted the FBI and not just brought it to the attention of my producers.”
Bush told Colbert he has spent some time since that incident analyzing his behavior and trying to move on to new things. On the day Trump was inaugurated, “I was checking in to a soul-searching retreat in California,” Bush said. “It was the beginning of me saying get up and stop being sorry for yourself. Get better. Be a better man, be a better person.”