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The visit marks the first late-night appearance for Bush since the former Today host was fired over the infamous Donald Trump “grab them by the pussy” audio that surfaced ahead of Trump’s election. Bush’s appearance comes amid the tape, recorded on a live mic before a 2005 segment on Access Hollywood, resurfacing in the news cycle, due to a report that the president has been questioning the authenticity of the recording, and just days after Matt Lauer’s disgraced departure as longtime Today co-anchor.
According to The New York Times, Trump likened the public response to the sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama’s GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore to that following the Access Hollywood tape, in which the then-reality star was caught boasting about grabbing women’s genitalia to Bush, then co-host of the NBC program. The Times said Trump — who acknowledged that the voice was his and apologized after it was revealed in October 2016 — suggested to a senator earlier this year that the audio was faked.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has not “changed his position,” despite the report.
In addition to chatting about the infamous tape, Colbert will no doubt press Bush on Lauer’s headline-making exit. Lauer, who took his seat at Today in 1997, was ousted after a sexual misconduct complaint was filed internally by an NBC News employee on Monday. Since his termination one day later on Tuesday, as many as five additional sexual harassment and misconduct claims have come to light.
Lauer was the one to announce Bush would be leaving Today in October 2016. Bush had joined the team at Today as co-host of the 9 a.m. hour in August 2016 after many years at Access Hollywood.
The Late Show has had a field day covering the Access Hollywood tape in the past year, including inviting Laura Benanti on to appear as Melania Trump to defend the Bush-Trump idea of “locker room talk.”
When speaking about his comeback plans with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, Bush said he would have liked the chance to have apologized on-air, an opportunity that never came. “Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic,” he said during an emotional point in the interview. “[Trump] liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, ‘Can you believe the ratings on whatever?’ But I didn’t have the strength of character to do it.”
The Bush get also comes after a tumultuous few weeks of scheduling for the CBS late-night show, after dropping a prerecorded interview with Jeremy Piven in light of sexual harassment claims against the former CBS star, and having an appearance with Louis C.K. scrapped amid allegations that the comedian masturbated in front of multiple women.
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Thomas Brodie Sangster