The "Access Hollywood" tape from 2005 featuring then-cohost of "Access Hollywood" Billy Bush and now-President Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitalia, caused a widespread uproar and was allegedly leaked by a "Today" Show staffer.
Sources provided the allegations, Page Six reported on Thursday, with one saying that NBC News knew "for a while" about the tape before it was leaked to the media.
The Washington Post released the video in Oct. 2016.
"The tape was leaked by the NBC News division, by somebody at the 'Today' show," the source told Page Six. "NBC News knew for a while about the existence of the tape. Billy himself had told them about it. People in the news division became frustrated that 'Access Hollywood' was taking too long to air it and decided it had to come out."
The same source described the "dual purpose" that the tape performed; the first reason was get rid of Billy Bush, and the second was to derail Trump's chances at the presidency.
A reason the network wanted Bush gone had to do with NBC's Matt Lauer, according to the source.
"The leak was not just a political move," the source said. "Lauer felt threatened."
"The leaked tape served a dual purpose: It helped get Bush out of the way—Matt Lauer didn’t like him and felt he was a liability—and NBC thought it would derail Trump," the source said. "But all it did was crush Billy, and, ironically, his own network was behind it."
Multiple sources told the Post that Bush did not get along with the cast when he first started working at the "Today" Show.
When Bush first came to "Today," sources told us he did not get along with the cast, who considered him a "frat boy." Then, he wrong-footed with his Ryan Lochte story about the supposed Rio robbery. And Lauer wasn’t happy that Bush was being hailed as his heir apparent.
A source also told the Post that the staffer who leaked the tape is still working at NBC with no future of being dismissed or disciplined.
"There was no investigation, no internal witch hunt by NBC into who leaked the tape," the source said. "It served their purposes."
Another source refuted the claim that it came from the "Today" Show.
"The leak did not come from 'Today,'" they said. "It was leaked by somebody on the West Coast who hated Billy Bush and wanted to take him down."
Bush was fired from NBC and his rep did not give the Post a comment.