Billy Bush is hitting back following recent reports that say President Donald Trump is now claiming that the infamous Access Hollywood tape might not be authentic in an op-ed for The New York 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 writes.
For his part, after the Access Hollywood tape was leaked, Bush issued an apology statement and Trump dismissed his own remarks about grabbing women as merely “locker-room banter,” but Bush was first suspended and then lost his job at NBC’s Today seven days later.
In his op-ed, Bush recounts reading about the various sexual assault allegations against Trump by dozens of women (the president denies any wrongdoing) and says that he believes them. Calling Trump’s new claims about the tape “revisionist history,” he says that, “This has hit a raw nerve in me. 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. This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct. Its leader is wantonly poking the bear.”
Bush also expresses his opinions on Trump as a president, saying that he thought his candidacy was “absurd” from the start. And he says that, although he will never know exactly what it felt like to come forward with allegations and “[be] summarily dismissed and called a liar,” he does know what it is like to experience the “anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump.” To the women, Bush writes, “You have my respect and admiration. You are culture warriors at the forefront of necessary change.”
“Today is about reckoning and reawakening, and I hope it reaches all the guys on the bus,” he concludes, adding, “I know that I don’t need the accouterments of fame to know God and be happy. After everything over the last year, I think I’m a better man and father to my three teenage daughters — far from perfect, but better.”
Bush echoed similar sentiments earlier this year. “Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, ‘Can you believe the ratings on whatever?’ But I didn’t have the strength of character to do it,” Bush told The Hollywood Reporter in May upon first breaking his silence on the scandal.
He also said he’s working to become a “better, fuller man.” “I am not grateful for the moment,” Bush said, “but I’m grateful for what I’ve gotten out of it. I’m grateful that it hit me all the way to my core.”
This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter.