Billy Bush Rebukes Trump on ‘Access Hollywood’ Claim: ‘This Has Hit a Raw Nerve’

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Billy Bush has pushed back at President Donald Trump’s reported statements suggesting that the voice on the infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” “Access Hollywood” tape was not his, writing that Trump did indeed make the comment in his presence and seven other men.

“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 in a New York Times op-ed published Sunday. “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.”

Bush recounted several of the sexual harassment allegations against Trump, including those of Jill Harth and Kristin Anderson, stating that he believes the women.

“President Trump 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,” he explained. “I can only imagine how it has reopened the wounds of the women who came forward with their stories about him, and did not receive enough attention.”

Bush continued, expressing remorse for his part in stroking “the ego of the big cash cow along the way to higher earnings,” referring to Trump’s tenure on “The Apprentice,” which at the time made him NBC’s “biggest star.”

He also affirmed his solidarity with the women reporting stories of sexual harassment from Trump, acknowledging the difficulty of “being summarily dismissed and called a liar…You have my respect and admiration. You are culture warriors at the forefront of necessary change.”

He finished on a personal note, stating that after being fired from “Today,” the “last 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.”

Bush’s op-ed for the New York Times comes amid rumblings that the host is preparing to emerge from his post-Trump exile and seek new TV work. He is booked to appear on Monday’s edition of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

On Oct. 7, 2016, The Washington Post published the details of the 2005 tape and posted the audio, in which Trump, in a conversation with Bush, made the remarks about Nancy O’Dell, then the co-host of “Access Hollywood,” as well as women in general. He and Bush had been riding on a bus, but they were both wearing microphones as a camera crew captured their arrival to the NBC Burbank lot, where Trump was to do a cameo on “Days of Our Lives.”

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump says on the tape. “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The release of the recording created a crisis for the Trump campaign, as a number of Republicans urged him to drop out of the presidential race. Trump dismissed it as “locker room talk.”

But Bush was fired by NBC over the audio, as he was heard going along with Trump’s remarks. It’s still unknown how the tape was leaked to the Post. As stories have recently surfaced that Trump is questioning the authenticity of the recording, “Access Hollywood” released a statement saying, “The tape is very real.” A member of the production crew also confirmed to Variety that he recalls hearing the audio of the conversation as it was taking place.