Billy Bush Says Infamous Trump Tape Was 'Weaponized': 'I Got Taken Out, but I Wasn't the Target'
Billy Bush returned to television as a host on Extra after three years out of the spotlight
The tape, filmed when Bush was starting his journalism career and leaked years later, caught him laughing along as Trump, then best known for NBC’s The Apprentice, made lewd comments and bragged about groping women. When the recording surfaced in October 2016 during the presidential election, Bush lost his new job on the Today show and retreated from the public eye after apologizing for what he had said.
Bush, 47, returned to TV for the first time since the scandal on Monday as a host on Extra. And in an interview with CBS This Morning that aired Tuesday, he recalled the day the tape was released — and his life changed forever.
“I was not prepared for what happened, because it happened, like so often things do these days, like that,” Bush, 47, told Gayle King. “Took the car to the airport, got on the plane, and boom.”
“And you knew there was a tape?” asked King, 64. Bush confirmed that “everyone at the network” knew of the tape’s existence.
“I was comfortable that it wasn’t going to be weaponized,” he added.
“Is that how you feel it was? Weaponized?” King asked.
“Oh, sure,” Bush said. “I got taken out, but I wasn’t the target.”
Bush told King that after the tape was released, he did not anticipate that he would be terminated from Today and was even assured his job was safe.
“I was told that, ‘You’re good. Don’t worry about it. It’s not you. You didn’t say anything,'” Bush said.
Two days after the leak, Bush was leaving home to go to work when he was informed that his ride had been canceled. After calling his lawyer, the TV host got the news that he lost his job.
“It was my first year as the co-host of the show,” he said of his life in 2005. “You know, you want people to like you, and you’re a little eager. I became a very different guy, so the guy that got fired, no question, was a very different guy.”
Trump, 73, made only a brief apology for the comments, shrugging them off as men-will-be-men “locker room talk.” One month after the tape was released, he defeated Hillary Clinton and was elected president.
However, Bush said that he is “not angry” at Trump: “I mean, he was being him … I think part of that personality and character was why he was successful in a boardroom, making people fight over lemonade stands.”
Returning to television after three years off the grid, Bush said he feels that he’s “picked up some missing elements in the last few years.”
“Like a deeper empathy, patience,” he told King. “I think people that I’m working with now would say, ‘Boy, he’s good to work with.’ Because I don’t freak out if something’s not right. I say, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’ll get better.”
Extra airs weekdays (check local listings). CBS This Morning airs from 7-9 a.m. ET on CBS.