'Devastated' Billy Bush Worried He 'Can't Recover' from Leaked Donald Trump Tape: Source
Bush said in a statement on Friday, "It's no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago – I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry"
Despite apologizing hours after the Washington Post published a video that captured Trump making sexual comments alongside Bush about Nancy O’Dell and Arianne Zucker on board an Access Hollywood bus, the damage may be irreparable for the co-host.
“People are saying he can’t recover,” a source tells PEOPLE about Bush, who has been suspended from his hosting duties. “It’s so ironic that the place that got him there — his job on Access Hollywood — is now destroying him,” the source says.
Although there is no confirmation as to who leaked the footage, the source tells PEOPLE that it was both “purposeful” and “not a low-level leak.”
“They could have released the tape and edited him out,” the source says of the individual that leaked the footage. “That was the plan — they were trying to approve it and then someone leaked it. That’s what Access Hollywood eventually did and they played it … but it was already out,” the source says and adds, “If they wanted to protect him, they could have edited it out which they did on the final Access piece that aired on Friday, but they left it in when it was leaked.”
(According to an NBC spokesperson: “There absolutely was never a consideration by NBC News to edit the tape.”)
In the three days since the 11-year-old footage surfaced, the source tells PEOPLE that Bush is “a wreck” and is “absolutely devastated.”
On Friday, Bush said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago – I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
A show source previously told PEOPLE that the morning show could have a “mutiny” on its hands from its female staffers if Bush wasn’t disciplined in some way.
“I don’t want to see him again,” the source said. “And I think there are a lot of women who feel the same way … I know this will have to be addressed by the producers and NBC. It has to be, or else they’ll have a mutiny on their hands.”