Former celebrity gossip journalist Billy Bush has confirmed that President Donald Trump said, "Grab 'em by the p***y," on the infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape that surfaced during the 2016 presidential election.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Bush says that Trump is now saying that wasn't his voice on the tape, notes the Daily Mail.
"Of course he said it," writes Bush. "And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America's highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real."
But now Bush believes it was not an act, because he recently read an Oct. 2016 article detailing firsthand accounts from 20 women who claimed to have been sexually harassed or assaulted by Trump.
One alleged victim, Kristin Anderson, said that Trump reached under her skirt and "touched her vagina through her underwear" while they were at a New York nightclub in the 1990s.
"That makes the "grab 'em by the p***y" routine real," Bush writes. "I believe her."
As Bush explains, part of his job on NBC's "Access Hollywood" was to ingratiate Trump, who was then the network's biggest star due to the success of his show, "The Apprentice."
"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."
The recent flood of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men in show business inspired Bush to speak out against Trump.
"This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct," he writes. "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 anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump. You have my respect and admiration. You are culture warriors at the forefront of necessary change."
When the tape was made public during the election campaign, Trump dismissed it as "locker-room talk." Despite the best efforts of Trump opponents to turn it into a "P***ygate" scandal, it had little effect on his base, who voted him into office soon thereafter.
And despite reports that Trump is now contesting the authenticity of the tape, the White House insisted in a statement on Dec. 4 that he "hasn't changed his position" on the matter.
"The president addressed this, this was litigated and certainly answered during the election by the overwhelming support for the president and the fact he's sitting here in the Oval Office today," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.