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Billy Bush on ‘Access Hollywood’ Trump Tape: I Was A Sycophant and Should Have Changed the Subject

Billy Bush
Billy Bush / AP
• May 22, 2017 8:23 am

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Former NBC personality Billy Bush told The Hollywood Reporter that he was too sycophantic and wishes he had just changed the subject when asked about the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women.

Trump, then the host of "The Apprentice," directed his infamous comment at Bush that he could kiss any woman he wanted because he was famous, and even "grab them by the pussy." Throughout the exchange, Bush could be heard laughing.

Trump apologized for causing offense, but the explosive video did not wind up dooming his presidential campaign. For Bush, however, the fallout led to him leaving NBC less than two weeks later.

Bush said in an exclusive interview with THR that he regretted being deferential to Trump. He said he felt "gutted" when he heard the tape just three days before it was released on Oct. 7, 2016.

"My participation was awful, too," he said. "I remember that guy; he was almost sycophantic. It was my first year as co-host of Access Hollywood, and I was an insecure person, a bit of a pleaser, wanting celebrities to like me and fit in."

Of the conversation itself, Bush said it was typical of Trump to dominate the room.

"With Donald, there wasn't much interaction. He sort of talks and performs, and everybody reacts. And the topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy, do I wish this was a golf day," Bush said. "Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. I wish I had said: ‘Does anyone want water?' or ‘It looks like it's gonna rain.' He liked TV and competition. I could've said, ‘Can you believe the ratings on whatever?' I didn't have the strength of character to do it."

Bush dismissed Trump's explanation that it was simply "locker room talk," adding that Trump enjoys surprising people.

"I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking," he said. "Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian: Does he really do the things that he's saying or is that his act? And in Donald's case, I equated it that way."

Bush also relayed that his daughter called him from school and cried over his behavior on the tape.

"My [then] 15-year-old, Mary, called me from boarding school, and she was in tears: ‘Dad, Dad, Dad,' and I said, ‘Everything is going to be fine, Mary. Everything's going to be OK,'" Bush said. "It's just instinctively what you say to your daughter. And she said, ‘No, why were you laughing at the things that he was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren't funny.'

"It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, ‘I have no answer for that that's any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you.' She needed to hear that, and I certainly needed to tell her that."

UPDATE: 9:30 A.M.: This article was updated to include Bush's remarks about a conversation with his daughter.

Published under: Donald Trump