Update, Dec. 4, 2017: Billy Bush had something to say about then-business mogul Donald Trump’s infamous “grab them by the p-ssy” comments and whether or not Bush believes the women who accused President Trump of sexual assault and rape.
Read more about it here.
More than seven months ago, an audio tape was released. Listeners heard then-candidate Donald J. Trump telling Billy Bush, with “Access Hollywood” at the time, “I grab [women] by the p-ssy” and his celebrity status gives him that right.
Bush was new to NBC’s “Today” when the audio, what was supposed to torpedo Trump’s grab for the Oval Office, was leaked.
Bush was fired. Trump became president.
Warning: Contains graphic language.
Bush recently gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter, the first since the audio leak. Here is what you need to know:
Bush, who says he’s “a pretty good guy,” said the scandal was God’s way of testing him.
Bush told the Hollywood Reporter: “I was kind of bopping along, and I don’t know if it was God or what that said, ‘OK, you’ve developed. You’re a pretty good guy. Let’s see how you handle this.’ And ka-boom!”
His daughters were severely disappointed.
Bush said his three daughters — Lillie, 12, Mary, 16, and Josie, 18 — all reacted differently, but Mary was the most upset.
“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,’” he recalled. “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.’”
Lillie decided against listening to the tape and Bush described the eldest as “a fighter.”
— Billy Bush (@TheBillyBush) April 5, 2017
Bush said he still doesn’t know who leaked the tape.
When NBC fired him, Bush was given a multi-million-dollar severance package and signed a nondisclosure agreement preventing him from talking about the details of his departure from the network.
[Note: Metro found a retweeted article claiming a “Today” staff member leaked the audio on Bush’s Twitter account with Bush’s comment, “Can confirm.”]
Bush said he never really believed Trump’s “locker room talk.”
“I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking,” Bush said. “When he said what he said, I’d like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I’d have called the FBI.”
Bush considers himself a journalist.
When asked if he voted for Trump, Bush replied: “You’re asking a journalist the way he voted? I’ve never made politics and prior votes public knowledge. I’m a registered independent, I’ll tell you that.”
— Billy Bush (@TheBillyBush) February 26, 2017
He wishes the day that went down in infamy “was a golf day.”
Celebrity hosts often find topics to discuss with interview subjects that create common ground and warm everyone up. He told the Hollywood Reporter that he often talked Boston sports with Ben Affleck and discussed his garden with Martha Stewart.
With Trump, “[T]he topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy, do I wish this was a golf day.”
— Billy Bush (@TheBillyBush) October 28, 2016
Bush said his insecurity, desire to be liked and the importance of the popular Trump show “The Apprentice” on affiliate NBC played a part in his silence that day.
“Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic,” Bush explained. “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 said he is not grateful for that moment, but he is grateful for what came out of it.
Since being fired, Bush said he did a lot of soul searching.
He walked on hot coals with spiritual guru Tony Robbins, read the book “10% Happier” by ABC News anchor and friend Dan Harris and beat up a pillow at an intense week-long retreat.
Bush now starts his day with meditation and yoga. He has also taken up boxing.
— Billy Bush (@TheBillyBush) October 28, 2016
“I’ve come out of this with a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field,” Bush explained. “The ground isn’t even. Maybe it’s improving, but still it isn’t even. When a woman watches that tape — and this is what really hit me — they may be asking themselves, ‘Is that what happens when I walk out of a room? When I walk out of a meeting, is that what they’re saying about me? Are they sizing me up?’ I can’t live with that. If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively.”
Next up for former President George H.W. Bush’s nephew?
Bush said he is working on a series that will involve interviews, pop culture and sports.