Billy Bush on ‘Access Hollywood’ Trump Tape: ‘I Wished I’d Changed the Topic’

May 22, 2017, 12:38 PM UTC

Former Today Show host Billy Bush says he wishes he’d thought to change the subject back in 2005 when then-reality TV star Donald Trump told him women let him “grab them by the p-ssy” due to his fame.

“Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic,” Bush said in a wide-ranging interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

The release of the tape rocked the 2016 presidential election and led to Bush’s dismissal at Today. President Trump and his campaign initially brushed it off as “locker room banter,” but Bush says he does not agree with that characterization of Trump’s comments.

“I’m in a lot of locker rooms, I am an athlete, and no, that is not the type of conversation that goes on or that I’ve participated in,” he said. “I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking.”

Bush says he has not been in contact with President Trump since he announced he was running for president in 2016. The former TV host told THR he went on a retreat later last year and has done a lot of “soul searching.” He hopes to return to television soon and says he know has a better understanding of women’s experiences with harassment and assault.

On the outcome of the election? Bush says, “I will admit the irony is glaring.”