Donald Trump’s campaign got the mother of all October Surprises today when the Washington Post published an article that included 2005 audio and video of the candidate, and now-NBC News Today show co-host Billy Bush, talking raunchily about women in a 10-year-old tape. In the tape Trump is heard explaining, to Jeb Bush’s cousin, that, among other things, when you’re famous enough, you can grab a woman by her genitals.
“Clearly this not how women should be spoken about. But were not choosing a Sunday school teacher here,” Trump’s former campaign manager turned CNN surrogate Corey Lewandowski said this afternoon, telegraphing what will be the campaign’s damage control strategy over the next 48 hours. That includes Sunday’s second debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton at which, Trump has previously promised, he will refrain, if at all possible, from making rough comments about Hillary Clinton’s husband, former POTUS Bill Clinton.
Meanwhile, another Trump surrogate, Scottie Hell Hughes, told CNN’s Erin Burnett the audio and video tape proves only that Trump was part of the entertainment industry at the time – “a world that produces movies, and books and songs that use this type of language. “
“If we’re going to hold him accountable for the words he used eleven years ago, then we need to hold Hollywood celebrities accountable for their actions today and not allow them to be on the screen saying these same words,” Hughes argued.
In an outreach to evangelical voters, Lewandowski said he checked in with Jerry Falwell Jr. who runs Liberty University, who told him about “the difference between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.”
“Jimmy Carter was the absolute best person – to be a Sunday school teacher for their children,” Lewandowski said Falwell Jr. told him. “But, to have a leader – someone who is tough ,and will be respected around the world – that’s what we’re doing here. And I think Donald Trump is” that person.
“This was 12 years ago, this audio tape. And it does not reflect.. the Donald Trump I spent 18 months with traveling,” Lewandowski pressed. “I never heard anything like this out of him. And so, let me say, we’re appointing a leader – electing a leader to the free world. We’re not electing a Sunday school teacher.”
Meanwhile, Billy Bush, who was working for Access Hollywood at the time of the incident, but now works for NBC News,issued a statement apologizing for the language heard in the tape. Bush was named this past May to host Today’s weakest-rated 9 AM hour of Today. NBC has declined to comment on whether the release of the tape will affect Bush’s status at NBC News, though he has become a player in which could be a major news story about a presidential candidate in an election cycle. It doesn’t help that Today show targets female viewers and Bush is heard in the tape praising Trump for sexually aggressive remarks about women.
Another Trump surrogate Scottie Hell Hughes said the audio and video tape proves only that Trump was part of the Hollywood – a world that produces movies, and books and songs that use this type of language.
Previous, 2 PM: TV News caught on fire on a Friday afternoon two days before the next presidential debate when Washington Post broke a story about a tape in which Donald Trump and now-NBC News morning-show co-host Billy Bush talking raunchily about women in an 11-year-old tape.
“I moved on her, actually, ” Trump, who at the time was a grandfather and had been married his current wife for a few months, is heard saying in the tape. “She was down in Palm Beach and I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. I’ll admit it… She was married. I moved on her very heavily…I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn’t get there, and she was married. And all of a sudden I see her and she’s now got the big phony tits and everything, she’s totally changed her looks.”
The audio and video capture Trump talking with Bush, who was then a host of NBC’s celebrity show Access Hollywood, from inside a bus with the show name written on the side. The two men were arriving at the set of the daytime drama Days of Our Lives to tape a segment about Trump’s upcoming cameo on the soap.
Bush is heard enthusing, “Your girl’s hot as s—, in the purple,” which appears to be a reference to Days actress Arianne Zucker, who is waiting to escort them to the soap set.
“Whoa!” Trump chimes in.
“I’m going to use some Tic Tacs in case I start kissing her,” Trump continues “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss, I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” Trump is heard in the recording, which WaPo broke two days before the candidate’s second debate with Dem candidate Hillary Clinton.
“So that is Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and television personality Billy Bush,who is probably in NBC public relations right now,” ” CNN’s Jake Tapper said after playing the tape on his network, speculating that Bush was likely in conference with NBC’s public relations department as he spoke.
Trump was approximately 59 when the video and audiotape was made, according to WaPo reporting in its article headlined “Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women.”
In a damage-control statement included in the WaPo article, Trump said, “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”
“Bill Clinton has said far worse things to me on the golf course – not even close,” Trump continued.
“I apologize if anyone was offended,” the candidate added, which may mark a first for Trump, who famously does not apologize.