"Of course he said it," Billy Bush writes in a New York Times op-ed addressing reports that President Trump now claims the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood recording was fake. When Trump spoke about "grabbing women by the p---," there were "seven other guys present on the bus at the time and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act," the former Access Hollywood and Today co-host writes. He says they laughed along, believing they were listening to "hypothetical hot air from America's highest-rated bloviator." "Surely, we thought, none of this was real. We now know better." He says he believes the accusations from around 20 women that followed the release of the tape.
Bush—who says he and many others were "acting out of self-interest" by stroking Trump's ego—writes that Trump's reported claim that the voice on the tape wasn't his has "hit a raw nerve in me," so he 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." "To these women: I will never know the fear you felt or the frustration of being summarily dismissed and called a liar, but I do know a lot about the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump," he writes. "You have my respect and admiration." Bush, who was fired by NBC after the tape surfaced last year, says he has gone through emotions including anger, anxiety, and humiliation over the last year. "But these have given way to light, both spiritual and intellectual. It’s been fortifying." (Read more Billy Bush stories.)