The leaked 2005 conversation between Donald Trump and former Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush caused the biggest upset since his criticism of a Gold Star family during the Democratic National Convention. Up until a few days ago, that video was collecting dust on a shelf at NBC.
Trump’s offensive comments about Alicia Machado were still a hot button issue, and the Associated Press had recently published a story quoting former Apprentice employees who claimed Trump “was lewd and sexist” while starring on the reality show.
On Monday, a producer remembered Trump’s 2005 conversation with Bush and dug up the tape, according to an NBC source who told CNN.
Executive producer Rob Silverstein and his producing team had viewed the tape by mid-week, and heard Trump tell Bush, “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.”
That clip caused the producing team to debate over whether to release the video or not, an NBC source said. A script was written by Friday morning, but the story did not air on Friday night’s edition of the show.
A different NBC source told CNN that Access had the story and that NBC News was aware of it, but that by Friday morning the story was not finalized.
It was around that time that Silverstein was notified that a Washington Post reporter, David Fahrenthold, had a copy of the tape.
Fahrenthold had been reporting on Trump’s charitable donations and the Trump Foundation for months when he asked NBC for a comment about the tape around noon on Friday.
Access producers were “blindsided” by his call, according to CNN. Fahrenthold has also declined to comment about how he came in possession of the tape.
Silverstein told Page Six on Friday afternoon, “I am the last person in the world who would release that tape. Trust me. Let’s remember that. No chance. Don’t even infer it’s me. I don’t know who leaked it. I have no idea.”
An Access Hollywood rep told PEOPLE on Saturday that the clip leaked while they were preparing for the story that aired on their program on Friday.
“As we reported in our story, Access Hollywood has interviewed Donald Trump literally hundreds of times over 20 years,” the show rep says. “With Mr. Trump’s nomination as presidential candidate, Access Hollywood reviewed its extensive library footage and discovered these comments.
“In the course of preparing our story which ran Friday night, our footage was leaked to the Washington Post.
“We have combed through every interview we have done with Mr. Trump over the past 20 years and at this time, we have not uncovered any other footage that rises to this level.”
- With reporting by CHARLOTTE TRIGGS