Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That

President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me.

I 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. This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct. Its leader is wantonly poking the bear.

In 2005, I was in my first full year as a co-anchor of the show “Access Hollywood” on NBC. Mr. Trump, then on “The Apprentice,” was the network’s biggest star.

The key to succeeding in my line of work was establishing a strong rapport with celebrities. I did that, and was rewarded for it. My segments with Donald Trump when I was just a correspondent were part of the reason I got promoted.

NBC tripled my salary and paid for my moving van from New York to Los Angeles.

Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it. With Mr. Trump’s outsized viewership back in 2005, everybody from Billy Bush on up to the top brass on the 52nd floor had to stroke the ego of the big cash cow along the way to higher earnings.

None of us were guilty of knowingly enabling our future president. But all of us were guilty of sacrificing a bit of ourselves in the name of success.

Ten years later, I did speak up. Soon after Mr. Trump declared his candidacy, I let it be known on “Access Hollywood Live” that I thought this was an absurd idea.

In the days, weeks and months to follow, I was highly critical of the idea of a Trump presidency. The man who once told me — ironically, in another off-camera conversation — after I called him out for inflating his ratings: “People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you,” was, I thought, not a good choice to lead our country.

I tried to conduct a serious interview with him as a candidate; each time I requested one I was turned down.

This moment in American life is no doubt painful for many women. It is especially painful for the women who have come forward, at the risk of forever being linked to one event, this man, this president of the United States. (I still can’t believe I just wrote that.)

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…

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