Billy Bush leaves NBC 'Today' show after Trump lewd tape

By Reuters/Eric Walsh, Piya Sinha-Roy and Jill Serjeant   October 18, 2016 | 09:08 am GMT+7
Billy Bush leaves NBC 'Today' show after Trump lewd tape
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump talks with his daughter Ivanka (L) and his wife Melania (R) at the conclusion of the debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Rick Wilking

And Melania Trump calls taped comments by Donald Trump 'boy talk'.

U.S. television host Billy Bush is leaving the "Today" show, NBC said in a note to employees on Monday, in the wake of his role in a lewd 2005 conversation with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump about women.

Bush, 45, had been suspended from hosting duties on NBC's flagship morning show after the emergence of the tape, in which Bush and then "Apprentice" reality star Trump joked and boasted about groping women.

In a statement on Monday, Bush said he was "deeply grateful for the conversations I've had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends and colleagues."

NBC's memo said, "While he was a new member of the 'Today' team, he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family. We wish him success as he goes forward."

No further details were given regarding a financial settlement.

In the 2005 video, Bush was heard laughing and joking with Trump, who bragged about grabbing and kissing women and trying to seduce a married woman.

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Billy Bush presents the award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series during the 41st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills, California June 22, 2014. Photo by Reuters/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

The video was made as part of a segment for "Access Hollywood," a celebrity and entertainment news program that is also part of the NBC group.

Bush, a cousin of former U.S. President George W. Bush, became one of the co-hosts of the "Today" show in August. The morning show is one of NBC's most lucrative properties and boasts a large female viewership.

He apologized on October 7, saying he was "embarrassed and ashamed" by his behavior, and NBC announced it was suspending him from "Today."

Noah Oppenheim, the executive in charge of "Today" had written in a memo to staff that "there is simply no excuse for Billy's language and behavior on that tape."

The married woman discussed in the conversation has since been identified as Bush's "Access Hollywood" co-host Nancy O'Dell.

Last week, O'Dell said that there is "no room for objectification of women, or anyone for that matter, not even in the locker room."

Earlier, U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is vowing to remain in the race after calls for him to quit over his lewd remarks about women.

Melania Trump calls taped comments "boy talk"

Melania Trump rose to her husband's defense on Monday, describing lewd comments the Republican presidential nominee made on a leaked 2005 video in which he bragged about groping women as "boy talk."

Trump, who has kept a low profile during her husband's presidential campaign, gave her first television interviews since the October 7 release of the tape that has shaken Donald Trump's campaign ahead of the November 8 election.

She told CNN her husband was engaged in "boy talk, and he was led on - like, egged on - from the host to say dirty and bad stuff" in the conversation with "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush.

She added in a CNN interview that aired on Monday night that she was surprised because she had never heard her husband use that kind of language before.

"No. No, that's why I was surprised, because I said like I don't know that person that would talk that way, and that he would say that kind of stuff in private," Melania Trump said.

In partial transcripts from a separate interview with Fox News, she said she had forgiven her husband for the comments in the tape, which was first published by the Washington Post.

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Melania Trump sits down with CNN television host Anderson Cooper during an exclusive interview in New York, to be aired October 17, 2016. Courtesy CNN/Handout via Reuters

"Those words, they were offensive to me and they were inappropriate. And he apologized to me. And I ... accept his apology. And we are moving on."

They were her first public comments since a statement she issued after the tape's publication in which she said: "The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have."

Melania Trump told Fox News that her husband, a New York businessman and former reality television star, was committed to running for office even though it was difficult because he had been "in so many shows, so many tapes" over the years.

The RealClearPolitics average of national opinion polls shows his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, currently leading Trump by 6.9 percentage points, at 45.9 percent to 39 percent.

Asked if it was fair for the media or her husband to bring up charges of infidelity in former President Bill Clinton's past, Melania Trump told Fox News: "Well, if they bring up my past, why not?"

After Trump denied during a debate with Clinton on October 9 that he had actually done the things he bragged about in the tape, a number of women accused him of groping and kissing them without permission in incidents stretching back decades. He has denied the charges.

Asked about those accusations, Melania Trump told Fox News: "All these women are coming out and they are allegations but they are not true. Why now? Why three weeks before the election?" 

Related news:

> Trump accused of inappropriate touching by two women - NYT

>Trump: 'We will not let these lies distract us'

 
 
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