Billy Bush lawyers up, goes on attack in NBC fight (Exclusive)

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Billy Bush's exit from NBC News isn't going to be as amicable as many thought it would be.

The embattled Today show host, who has been suspended by the network for his role in the lewd Donald Trump tape recorded in 2005 when Bush was an anchor at Access Hollywood, has hired a prominent Los Angeles litigator to help work out his separation from the network. And that lawyer is now going on the attack.

Marshall Grossman, one of LA's fiercest and well-respected attorneys, has joined Bush's team, suggesting the anchor is ready to litigate against NBC if the network can't reach a deal with its former rising star. Grossman declined to comment on the status of the negotiation, but he defends his client's role in the Trump tape, in which Bush is heard laughing and encouraging the now-GOP presidential candidate as he made misogynistic and predatory comments.

Bush, Grossman says, was an NBC Universal employee interviewing an NBC star in The Apprentice's Trump, so he wasn't exactly in a position to challenge his interview subject.

See photos of Billy Bush throughout his career:

23 PHOTOS
Billy Bush through the years
See Gallery
Billy Bush through the years
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: NBC News' Billy Bush in conversation with Jeff Rossen for SiriusXM's TODAY Show Radio at SiriusXM Studios on August 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Billy Bush arrives for the women's final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on day 13 of the 2016 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/GC Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 08: Billy Bush & Olympic Legend Carl Lewis for Speed-Walking Race for Ages at Copacabana beach on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Access Hollywood )
CULVER CITY, CA - MAY 21: TV personality/host Billy Bush attends the Kaleidoscope Ball at 3LABS on May 21, 2016 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Billy Bush visits 'The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show' at Z100 Studio on February 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Radio host Billy Bush (L) and actress Olivia Jordan attend The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2016 Presented By Macy's at The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station on February 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for AHA)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Billy Bush visits 'The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show' at Z100 Studio on February 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Billy Bush (L) and Bethany Watson at 'The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show' at Z100 Studio on February 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 09: Billy Bush arrives at the Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles Annual Wishing Well Winter Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 9, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) TV personalities Billy Bush and Kit Hoover attend the Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles Annual Wishing Well Winter Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 9, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 09: TV personality Billy Bush speaks onstage during Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles Honoring Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Rosenfeld And Tom Mone at its Annual Wishing Well Winter Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 9, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles)
YOUNTVILLE, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Billy Bush attends the Celebrity Tribute during the Napa Valley Film Festival 2015 at the Lincoln Theatre on November 13, 2015 in Yountville, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 29: Master of Ceremonies Billy Bush attends the imagine1day Visionary Leadership Dinner at The London West Hollywood on October 29, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for imagine1day)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: TV host, Billy Bush attends 16th Annual Ubuntu Education Fund 1 Million to One: Changing The Odds Gala at Gotham Hall on June 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Radio host Billy Bush attends the Farrah Fawcett Foundation 1st annual Tex-Mex Fiesta at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Television personalities Bethenny Frankel (L) and Billy Bush tape a segment at 'Access Hollywood' at the NBC Rockefeller Center Studios on June 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 23: TV personality Billy Bush attends The CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards on April 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
BURBANK, CA - MARCH 08: TV Host Billy Bush attends the advance screening of 'Cinderella' benefiting Los Angeles JDRF at Walt Disney Studios on March 8, 2015 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE/SPECIAL RATES APPLY) TV host Billy Bush visits 'The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show' at Z100 Studio on November 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Andy Cohen, Chloe Grace Moretz and Billy Bush -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: EXCLUSIVE ACCESS/SPECIAL RATES APPLY - Billy Bush visits 'The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show' at Z100 Studio on September 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Billy Bush -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"If Billy had been passive or responded 'Shut the f--- up' to Trump, Billy would have been out of a job the next day," Grossman, a partner at Orrick in Los Angeles, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The shot at NBC comes as negotiations resumed Thursday between the network and Bush over the terms of his exit. The former Access Hollywood host, whose contract pays him about $3 million a year, believes he has leverage in the talks because he had told NBC colleagues about his Trump conversation at least as far back as August, when he was boasting about it while covering the Olympics in Rio.

NBC News sources have insisted news division management — chairman Andy Lack and Today senior vp Noah Oppenheim — did not learn about the tape that captured Bush and Trump on a hot mic and off camera for an Access Hollywood segment engaged in a misogynist and predatory conversation until early last week.

See photos of Billy Bush on the 'Today' show:

13 PHOTOS
Billy Bush on the Today Show
See Gallery
Billy Bush on the Today Show
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: (BROADCAST - OUT) Natalie Morales, Billy Bush and Al Roker joke on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: (BROADCAST - OUT) Host, Billy Bush takes a photo with Nicole Johnson and Boomer Phelps on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) US Olympians David Plummer and Kathleen Baker with Anchors Natalie Morales and Billy Bush appear on NBC's 'TODAY' show at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 9, 2016 -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Anchors Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb, Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Billy Bush with US team doctor Kevin Pierce appear on NBC's 'TODAY' show at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 9, 2016 -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 08: Billy Bush & Olympic Legend Carl Lewis for Speed-Walking Race for Ages at Copacabana beach on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Access Hollywood )
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 08: (L-R) Billy Bush, Kit Hoover & Olympic Legend Carl Lewis talk on Copacabana Beach prior to a Speed-Walking Race for Ages at Copacabana beach on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Access Hollywood )
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Anchors Natalie Morales, Billy Bush and Al Roker with Nastia Liukin appear on NBC's 'TODAY' show at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 9, 2016 -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 08: Billy Bush & Olympic Legend Carl Lewis embrace after crossing the finish line after a Speed-Walking Race for Ages at Copacabana beach on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Access Hollywood )
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Anchors Natalie Morales, Billy Bush and Al Roker appear on NBC's 'TODAY' show at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 9, 2016 -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: (BROADCAST - OUT) Robel Kiros Habte of Ethiopia receives a high five from Al Roker with Natalie Morales, Billy Bush on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Anchors Billy Bush, Matt Lauer, Natalie Morales, Al Roker and Hoda Kotb appear on NBC's 'TODAY' show at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 9, 2016 -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) US Olympians David Plummer and Kathleen Baker, Anchors Natalie Morales, Billy Bush and Al Roker and US Olympian Katie Meili appear on NBC's 'TODAY' show at the Rio Olympics on Monday, August 9, 2016 -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"NBC News did exactly what you would expect from a great news organization," an NBC spokesperson said in a statement after the tape was released. "As soon as we saw the tape and made the assessment it was undoubtedly newsworthy, we moved quickly and deliberately to get it published and to do so in the most responsible way."

Bush, who continues to be represented by WME, attorney Robert Lange and publicists Jill Fritzo and David Goldin, may have a different story to tell.

Full disclosure: Early in his career, the author worked as a lawyer at a law firm run by Grossman.

Billy Bush was reportedly in tears over the scandal earlier this week:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL and get the top celebrity, movies, music and TV news delivered to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners