It is December, which might explain all the snow jobs coming out of the White House these days. Aside from Trump’s lawyer claiming to be responsible for the tweet that seemed to cop to obstruction of justice—despite all the questions it raises about a personal attorney having access to the president’s Twitter account when there’s otherwise no one else monitoring the feed—the sentient catcher’s mitt has also launched a disinformation campaign about the Access Hollywood tape that should have cost him the election, but didn’t.
Recent rumblings indicate that, although he both apologized for and tried to dismiss the tape as “locker room talk,” Trump is now claiming that he isn’t the person regaling former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush with stories about how the perks of celebrity include a pass on sexual assault. Given that Trump’s supporters still believe Mexico will pay for his beautiful, tremendous, apparently transparent wall, even after he said the U.S. would actually pony up the roughly $21.6 billion needed for construction and maintenance (the see-through aspect of the wall will come in handy for passing Mexico’s president the bill), it’s easy to see why he’d think he could revise history in this manner.
But Access Hollywood swiftly responded to Trump’s denial, with Natalie Morales confirming the tape’s authenticity to the The New York Times. Because Trump’s staunchest supporters are undoubtedly skeptical of a woman’s account of what went down—and one with an “ethnic-sounding” last name, at that—Billy Bush himself has emerged from the dimension he was banished to while Trump won the race for president to reaffirm that the president did indeed admit to groping women without their consent in that 2005 interview.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Bush states for the record that Trump “said it. “Grab ’em by the pussy.” The ousted Today show co-host claims he and the seven other men present during the interview laughed because they thought it was “hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator” (which is a problem in and of itself). But he says after reading a 2016 Washington Post article about the 20 women who have said Trump groped or “forcefully kissed” them, there was no doubt left in Bush’s mind that the so-called “locker room talk” was practically a confession.
Bush tries to do a little (late) damage control, insisting that no one at Access Hollywood or NBC “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.” And while acknowledging the recent spate of sexual abuse and harassment allegations against influential men, both in Hollywood and politics, Bush tells the women who spoke out against Trump that he “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.” Comparing losing his job for encouraging Trump in the interview, even if he did just think it was run-of-the-mill misogyny and not assault, to women who claim to have been sexually harassed or assaulted by a man who’s now the most powerful person on the planet is an incredibly stupid thing to write, but hey, Bush has spent a whole year being unemployed, which must mean he understands being disenfranchised.