Billy Bush has thought long and hard about the leaked hot mic tape that led to his leaving Today on NBC in October. Now, after his fair share of "soul searching," Bush is speaking out about what he would have done differently if he had to have that 2005 conversation with Donald Trump again.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the former Access Hollywood host said he wishes he'd stopped Trump's "grab them by the pussy" comment right in its tracks.
"With Donald, there wasn't much interaction," Bush said of Trump, who'd been a regular on Access Hollywood at the time. "He sort of talks and performs, and everybody reacts. And the topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy, do I wish this was a golf day."
But it hadn't been a golf day — it was the day Trump would brag about sexually assaulting women while his mic was still on.
"Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic," Bush continued. "He liked TV and competition. I could've said, 'Can you believe the ratings on whatever?' I didn't have the strength of character to do it."
Bush admitted there's something ironic about his being fired for his complicity in the leaked tapes, while Trump went on to become president. Still, the former host said he's striving to see the scandal as a learning experience.
"It was my first year as co-host of Access Hollywood and I was an insecure person, a bit of a pleaser, wanting celebrities to like me and fit in," Bush said.
Bush also shared what he's learned about women in his time of reflection who have to "fight extra hard for an even playing field."
Not everyone is convinced Bush's apology is so pure of heart.
Jezebel called Bush's interview with the Hollywood Reporter a "flagrant attempt at a comeback." Whatever the case, Bush certainly has a keen eye on what's next — and it has to do with helping people who are "in crisis" like he was in October.
"I have changed in a way that I think will make me better at my job," Bush told the outlet. "I believe there will be more people like me in crisis. ... Through what I've learned and where I've been, I will tell them, 'You have empathetic ears in me.'"