UPDATED with video: Billy Bush took his Career Resuscitation Tour to Stephen Colbert’s Late Show Monday night, hours after New York Times published his op-ed piece insisting it is Donald Trump’s voice in the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood bus-ride tape, boasting about being so famous he can grab women “by the p*ssy” with impunity.
Colbert marveled at the carpe diem opening Trump handed to Bush when NYT reported Trump had begun telling some people in private, including at least one member of the U.S. Senate, that he does not think that is his voice on the tape.
Colbert called the op-ed “worth reading,” but noted “no one would have printed this unless the story had come back around again by Donald Trump privately denying it. There wouldn’t be The Moment to bring this bus back. And I couldn’t show footage of the bus again unless he denied it again too. I don’t think CBS would let me.”
Bush said he was motivated to write the op-ed last week when “for some reason,” Trump came out with his ‘That’s not my voice on the tape’ claim.
“You can’s say that, that’s your voice. I was there…that’s your voice on the tape,” he said.
The former Access Hollywood host very briefly was a Today show host for NBC News until getting sacked after the Washington Post made public the tape. He says only when he learned Trump was denying it was his voice on the tape that he “Googled” and read about the 20-something women who came forward, on the record, claiming Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them. He said he had not read accounts of the claims at the time because he’d been fired just 13 days earlier and was in his own “personal shock.”
Reading about the women, Bush said he realized Trump was “re-opening wounds on them too…Stop playing around with people’s lives. That upset me. So I wrote it.”
In his op-ed piece, titled, “Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That,” Bush wrote, “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.”
Seven more men were on the bus at the time, Bush said, “and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.”
“We now know better,” Bush continued.
The cousin of 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush attempted to explain his behavior at the time: “In 2005, I was in my first full year as a co-anchor of the show Access Hollywood on NBC. Mr. Trump, then on The Apprentice, was the network’s biggest star.”
“The key to succeeding in my line of work was establishing a strong rapport with celebrities. I did that, and was rewarded for it,” Bush said, crediting his segments with Trump when he was a correspondent. He adds, “part of the reason I got promoted” to host was because NBC tripled his salary and moved him from New York to Los Angeles.
“Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it. With Mr. Trump’s outsized viewership back in 2005, everybody from Billy Bush on up to the top brass on the 52nd floor had to stroke the ego of the big cash cow along the way to higher earnings.”
“None of us were guilty of knowingly enabling our future president. But all of us were guilty of sacrificing a bit of ourselves in the name of success.”