Former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush encouraged Donald Trump to make inappropriate remarks about women in a 2005 video, Melania Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that aired Monday.
It was Melania Trump’s first on-camera defense of her husband since The Washington Post published the 2005 video of Bush and the now-Republican presidential nominee speaking on a hot microphone. She said that Trump and Bush had been engaged in “boy talk” and Trump “was led on — like, egged on — from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.”
Cooper then asked her, “You feel the host, Billy Bush, was sort of egging him on?”
“Yes. Yes,” she responded.
Melania Trump said she was surprised when she saw the tape.
“I said to my husband that, you know, the language was inappropriate. It’s not acceptable,” she told Cooper. “And I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know, and as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. It was only a mic, and I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on.”
Many of the comments were recorded while Bush, Donald Trump and others were on a bus and mic’ed, and not while on camera. In one exchange, Trump brags says he just starts kissing beautiful women. “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Bush responded, “Whatever you want.”
The Republican nominee has since described his comments as “locker-room talk.” In a previous statement, Melania Trump said, “the words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader.”
Hours after the video surfaced, Bush apologized for his remarks and behavior, saying was “embarrassed and ashamed” and that he “acted foolishly in playing along.”
NBC placed Bush on suspension from his anchor duties on the “Today” show, and on Monday, 10 days after the tape became public, he was officially gone from the show.
“While he was a new member of the ‘Today’ team, he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family,” NBC Senior Vice President Noah Oppenheim wrote in a note to staff announcing Bush’s departure. “We wish him success as he goes forward.”
In a separate statement, Bush said, “I am deeply grateful for the conversations I’ve had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends and colleagues. I look forward to what lies ahead.”
[This post, originally published Oct. 17, has been updated.]