"This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct."
Not even a week after Matt Lauer was fired from the Today show over alleged "inappropriate sexual behavior," his former colleague, Billy Bush, addresses his own scandal that got him ousted from the NBC program last year.
The 46-year-old TV personality penned an op-ed for The New York Times on Sunday and opened up about the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood tape during the 2016 presidential election in which Bush is heard laughing and joking as President Donald Trump made lewd comments about women. Bush's latest comments come after The New York Times reported that Trump has begun questioning the authenticity of the tape.
"He said it.. Of course he said it," Bush writes. "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 stand-up act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real. We now know better."
Bush -- who was working for Access Hollywood at the time of the 2005 recording -- explains why he reacted that way to Trump's inappropriate remarks. "The key to succeeding in my line of work was establishing a strong rapport with celebrities. I did that, and was rewarded for it," he writes. "My segments with Donald Trump when I was just a correspondent were part of the reason I got promoted. NBC tripled my salary and paid for my moving van from New York to Los Angeles."
He adds, "Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it."
As for how Bush has been coping since the release of the tape, he admits, "This last year has been an odyssey, the likes of which I hope to never face again: anger, anxiety, betrayal, humiliation, many selfish but, I hope, understandable emotions. But these have given way to light, both spiritual and intellectual. It’s been fortifying."
He goes on to respond to Trump reportedly claiming that it is not him talking on the tape. "President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me," he notes. "I can only imagine how it has reopened the wounds of the women who came forward with their stories about him, and did not receive enough attention."
While Bush does not directly address Lauer's sexual misconduct allegations, he does talk about the multiple sexual harassment and assault accusations that have been leveraged against powerful men over the past year.
"This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct," he writes.
In addition to his piece in the Times, Bush is also set to appear on Monday's Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Meanwhile, the Today show is already looking into who will replace Lauer, and while there have been rumblings that Megyn Kelly would be taking over for the 59-year-old newsman, several sources tell ET that this is not the case.
"The network likes Megyn in her current role," one source noted. "The rumor around the Today show offices is that Willie Geist could be the one to replace Matt."
Here's more on the future of Today: