'Access Hollywood Live' Co-Hosts Defend Billy Bush

Billy Bush - Ubuntu Education Fund Event - Getty - H - 2016
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"The Billy that I know — and that a lot of people would say — has the biggest heart of anybody, and he is a good person," Kit Hoover said of her former colleague, who was suspended from his new gig as co-host of the 'Today' show's third hour over his involvement in a leaked lewd conversation with Donald Trump from 2005.

While Billy Bush's suspension was just briefly mentioned on Monday's Today show, Access Hollywood Live co-hosts Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover devoted a few minutes near the top of Monday's program to defending Bush.

Morales recapped weekend developments in the wake of Friday's publication of audio recordings from 2005 when Trump, then an NBC star as host of The Apprentice, made lewd comments about women, including then-Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O'Dell, who now works for Entertainment Tonight. Trump was talking to Bush on the Access Hollywood bus, and Bush can be heard laughing at and chiming in on Trump's comments in the tape.

Bush apologized for his role in the tapes in a statement released on Friday night but on Sunday night Today senior vp Noah Oppenheim told staffers that Bush was suspended, pending further review.

"There is simply no excuse for Billy's language and behavior on that tape," Oppenheim wrote.

Morales, who formerly co-hosted Today and moved to Access Hollywood over the summer, noted the suspension and then asked her co-host Hoover, who spent six years co-hosting Access Hollywood Live alongside Bush, how she's dealing with the developments involving her friend.

Hoover said she was home and watching Friday night's Access Hollywood, which featured a piece about the tapes, with her 14-year-old daughter when she found out about the audio.

Hoover said that "the tapes are inexcusable" but said that the footage from 11 years ago represents "seven minutes of someone's life" and during the six years she spent working alongside Bush, he treated her with nothing but respect and kindness.

"He treated me like an equal from day one," Hoover said. "And I think anybody that watched our show at home and saw us together, knew how much he rooted for me and were really always in my corner and there's really a team work with both of us out there and so I — just devastating to watch how all this has unfolded, and the Billy that I know and a lot of people say has the biggest heart of anybody and he is a good person."

Morales added that, for her part, "One of the first people to call me and congratulate me when I announced that I would be getting this job was Billy. He also offered advice and offered to help with Morales' move and transition.