"Today" co-host Billy Bush issued an apology Friday for his vulgar remarks in a leaked 2005 conversation with Republican nominee Donald Trump.
"Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed," Bush said in a statement issued by NBC News. "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."
Even with the apology, the tape that has rocked an already incredible presidential campaign is also casting a pall over Bush's future at NBC's morning show which he joined in August. Bush co-hosts the 9 a.m. hour with Al Roker and Tamron Hall.
On the tape obtained by the Washington Post, Trump boasted crudely to Bush about groping women, saying some let him grab them in the crotch. Trump is heard saying "when you're a star, they let you do it."
Bush, 44, is heard chuckling and encouraging Trump's crude chatter on the tape, made when he was co-anchor of "Access Hollywood." The banter on their open microphones preceded a segment about Trump making a cameo on NBC's soap "Days of Our Lives."
Trump also talks about how he tried to seduce former "Access Hollywood" co-host Nancy O'Dell, according to the program's own report on the tape Friday.
"That's huge news," Bush is heard saying after Trump crudely describes his pursuit of O'Dell, who resisted the reality show star's advances.
While the tape has massive implications for Trump and his campaign, it's the second major embarrassment in Bush's short tenure as a "Today" cohost.
During NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games in Rio, Bush had the first interview with Ryan Lochte after the gold-medal-winning swimmer and three of his teammates falsely claimed they were robbed at gunpoint. Lochte perpetuated his story during the interview with Bush.
After it was determined that Lochte was lying, Bush tried to excuse the swimmer's actions, which prompted co-host Al Roker to chastise him on the air. The exchange went viral.
Roker is said to be disturbed by the revelations on the Trump tape, according to one person close to "Today." But he is undergoing surgery next week and will not be on the program.
Bush, the nephew of President George H.W. Bush and cousin of President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, joined "Access Hollywood" as an East Coast correspondent in 2001. He took over as co-host in 2004. He also has served as master of ceremonies for the Miss Universe pageant, which until last year was co-owned by Trump and NBC.
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