That President Donald Trump would buy into a conspiracy theory isn’t a surprise.
That he would concoct a new one that attempts to completely retcon his own history shows that, even after an absolutely bananas 10 months in office, he still has the power to stun us.
But that’s where we’re at as word continues to spread that Trump is privately suggesting the infamous Access Hollywood tape — the one published by the Washington Post in which Trump audibly advocates sexual assault to a chuckling Billy Bush — may not be real.
The New York Times first reported the whisperings as a buried nugget in a story about how Trump is tacitly endorsing Roy Moore in the Alabama senate race despite the heap of allegations facing Moore.
And, on Monday, the Times‘ White House reporter Maggie Haberman said a third person has reported Trump’s doubts over that being his voice on the tape.
This all despite the fact that Trump fessed up and even offered an apology for his statements after the story broke and his continuing to defend the conversation as “locker room talk.”
But no matter how much Trump may be trying to convince others — or even himself — that the video isn’t him, if there’s one person who knows the truth, it’s Billy Bush.
A littler over a week after the Post published the tape, Bush was fired by NBC from his job at The Today Show. And though it would take months for Bush to publicly address the incident, he gave no indication that the conversation is, in any way, fake.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in May 2017, Bush said:
“Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [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.”
When considering he was fired for his part in the conversation but Trump was elected president, Bush noted, “the irony was glaring.”
And if there’s a guy who you think would try to claim the “tape is fake” card, it’s the guy who actually lost his job because of it.
The conversation was recorded in 2005 and one can forgive a fuzzy memory, especially from a man who has spewed so much vitriol just in the last 2.5 years, let alone the last decade. But even Trump can’t possibly be this delusional, right?
For their part, the folks at Access Hollywood are standing firm and saying that, yes, the tape is real.
Bush hasn’t commented on this latest wrinkle but he was recently hit in the head by a golf ball which, frankly, would give him a far better excuse than Trump for having a hazy recollection.