Former Access Hollywood anchor Billy Bush spoke with Stephen Colbert about the infamous 2005 tape in which President Donald Trump bragged about sexually harassing women. The tape was resurrected in the news cycle after Trump told at least one U.S. senator and his advisors that the Access Hollywood footage was “not authentic.”
Bush responded to Trump’s recent denial in an op-ed for The New York Times. Bush adamantly confirmed the authenticity of the tape. He also spoke about how his own life has changed since the footage leaked last fall resulting in his termination from Access Hollywood.
At the time, Bush said, the shock of the leak and losing his job caused him to lose focus on the then-developing story of women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct and harassment. Bush said he rediscovered an article in which 20 women detailed their experiences with Trump and said, “As I read this, I said, 20 women don’t get together and say, ‘Hey you know what would be really fun. Let’s take down a terrible guy together.'” Bush said that by questioning the authenticity of the tape, Trump was “reopening wounds” on his victims too, adding: “Enough’s enough. Stop playing around with peoples’ lives.”
Bush tied the Access Hollywood tape to the current cultural moment, in which sexual assault and misconduct allegations have brought down numerous men, from Harvey Weinstein to Bush’s old Today colleague, Matt Lauer. Bush said he hoped the conversation about sexual assault would continue, urging people to not just keep listening to victims, but to start talking with young men and boys about consent and what’s appropriate.
Towards the end of the interview, Bush spoke about the irony of losing his job while Trump ultimately was elected president. The host recalled a surreal moment where he was checking himself into a “soul searching retreat” on inauguration day. “It was the beginning of me saying, ‘Get up, stop being sorry for yourself, stop worrying about these things, there’s life to live, let’s go. Get better. Be a better man, be a better person,'” Bush said. “So I passed a television in the office and he’s got the hand up and I’m going into my little cabin to do the work.”