Billy Bush says Matt Lauer defended him to ‘Today’ bosses amid Trump bus tape fallout

Billy Bush sat down with Stephen Colbert on Monday for his first TV interview about the now-infamous Donald Trump bus tape, getting candid about the recording and subsequent fallout.

"It was a difficult time," Bush recalled. "I think it was very hot, emotionally in the country. A lot of people were not comfortable with the man who was close to winning the election and a lot of things happened quickly."

The former NBC host penned an op-ed this week in response to New York Times reports that President Trump has recently been questioning the authenticity of the 2005 recording -- in which Bush, then a reporter for Access Hollywood, is heard laughing as Trump makes lewd comments about women.

"He said it.. Of course he said it," Bush wrote. "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."

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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)
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After the recording went public, Bush lost his job at the Today show, while Trump went on to be elected the 45th president of the United States, a fact Colbert couldn't help but point out on Monday's Late Show.

"The very day he was swearing in as the 45th President of the United States, I was checking into this soul-searching retreat in Santalina, California for nine days," Bush quipped.

"My boss, later, months later, said publicly, 'I think we may have moved a little quickly,'" he continued. "I will say, I would have liked the chance to have been able to address the audience that following Monday. But it was right after the debate and I think the tape made it in time for the debate, so I didn't get that."

Colbert also asked Bush if Matt Lauer -- the longtime Today show host who was recently fired by NBC following multiple reports of sexual misconduct -- had made any efforts to save his job at the time.

"We had a conversation about that and I was told, he told me, that he went privately to the bosses and took that line," Bush recalled. "I said I appreciated it, and I accepted it, and thanked him."

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Matt Lauer on June 27, 1986. (Photo by Arty Pomerantz/New York Post/Photo Archives, LLC via Getty Images)
Matt Lauer gets ready to call it a day after anchoring the NBC Local News on June 04, 1993. (Photo by Jerry Engel/New York Post/Photo Archives, LLC via Getty Images)
Matt Lauer during 1997 Lexus Challenge Hosted by Raymond Floyd at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 17: Matt Lauer (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Matt Lauer during 'Batman Forever' - New York City Premiere at Sony Lincoln Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Al Roker, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer outside the studio for The Today Show on the streets of New York City (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Matt Lauer (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer on Thursday Nov.16, 2017 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE -- Pictured: (l-r) Hosts Katie Couric, Matt Lauer during the 2000 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE 91ST ANNUAL MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE -- Pictured: (l-r) Today Co-Anchors Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer - (Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: James Nederlander and Matt Lauer attend the Elton John AIDS Foundation 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Carson Daly, Matt Lauer, Hoda Kotb and Megyn Kelly on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Dolly Parton and Matt Lauer on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Norah O'Donnell and Matt Lauer during the Skin Cancer Foundation's Champions for Change Gala at Cipriani 25 Broadway on October 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer on Thursday Aug. 24, 2017 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 12: Annette Roque and Matt Lauer attend Apollo in the Hamptons 2017: hosted by Ronald O. Perelman at The Creeks on August 12, 2017 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer on Friday, Aug.11, 2017 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SAG HARBOR, NY - JULY 3: Eric Fischl and Matt Lauer attend eBay Hosts July 4th Benefit for Sag Harbor Cinema Restoration Project at Lulu Kitchen and Bar on July 3, 2017 in Sag Harbor, NY. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured (l-r): Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Matt Lauer -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 26: Journalists Matt Lauer and singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus on stage during Miley Cyrus performance on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on May 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: (L-R) Journalists Chuck Todd, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Megyn Kelly and Lester Holt attend the 2017 NBCUniversal Upfront at Radio City Music Hall on May 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer attend 2017 Matrix Awards - Arrivals at Sheraton Times Square on April 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Aurora Rose/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Matt Lauer on Friday, April 21, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie are seen waling in Midtown on March 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
TODAY -- Matt Lauer's 20th Anniversary Celebration -- Pictured: (l-r) Katie Couric and anchor Matt Lauer on Friday, January 6, 2017 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 24: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Matt Lauer hosts an exclusive guest DJ session on SiriusXM's Classic Vinyl channel to celebrate the launch of TODAY Show Radio on SiriusXM on June 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Tamron Hall, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appear on NBC News' 'Today' show on June 13, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- (l-r) Matt Lauer sits down with Pippa Middleton in her first-ever television interview -- (Photo by: Anthony Harvey/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Dave Chappelle and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Tamron Hall, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC News Wire)
TODAY -- Pictured: Matt Lauer appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC News Wire)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Journalist Matt Lauer and singer Celine Dion pose for a photo during on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on July 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: (BROADCAST - OUT) Host, Matt Lauer speaks with swimmer, Ryan Lochte of the United States 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) Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila appear on June 14, 2016 -- (Photo By: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Carson Daly, Natalie Morales, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Maddie Baillio, Harvey Fierstein on the 'Today' show on Tuesday, June 7 2016 from Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC News Wire)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Journalists Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie attend the 2016 NBCUNIVERSAL Upfront at Radio City Music Hall on May 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Matt Lauer is seen on April 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0459 -- Pictured: Journalist Matt Lauer arrives on April 27, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Matt Lauer at NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on April 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Caitlyn Jenner and Matt Lauer attend the 2016 Time 100 Gala, Time's Most Influential People In The World at Jazz At Lincoln Center at the Time Warner Center on April 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Time)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/04/07: Matt Lauer attends New York City Police Foundation gala at Waldorf Astoria. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appear on the 'Today' show on Monday, March 14, 2016 from Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: NBC 'Today Show' hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer interview Chris Martin when Coldplay perform in the rain on NBC's 'Today Show' at Rockefeller Plaza on March 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: (R-L) Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer interview 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during NBC's Today Trump Town Hall at Rockefeller Plaza on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Jordan Spieth appear on the 'Today' show on Monday, March 14, 2016 from Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Jennifer Lopez appear on the 'Today' show on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18: Jack Matthew Lauer, Romy Lauer and Matt Lauer attend The Philadelphia 76ers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on January 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: TV personalities Willie Geist, Natalie Morales, Tamron Hall, Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer attend the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
TV personalities Al Roker (L) and Matt Lauer arrive, at the 73nd annual Golden Globe Awards, January 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON / AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04: Matt Lauer is seen in 'Midtown'on January 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Co-Anchor Matt Lauer speaks with Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler and Dr. Stephen Zeitels about having laser surgery on his vocal chords, as shown in a new National Geographic special on NBC News' Today on October 19, 2007 -- Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) C-Anchor Matt Lauer speaks with actor Denzel Washington about his new film, 'American Gangster' on NBC News' Today on October 19, 2007 -- Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank
OHIO, UNITED STATES - JUNE 14: 'Today' show co-host Matt Lauer (R) being congratulated by school President Robert Glidden (L) for receiving his bachelor's degree from Ohio University 18 years after he was a student. (Photo by Steve Kagan/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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In his op-ed, Bush wrote that "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." He told Colbert that he hopes the recent string of allegations against several powerful Hollywood players sparks a new dialogue surrounding sexual assault and victim-blaming.

"I think that the bus ride was the tip of the iceberg," he said. "I'm worried that the dialogue isn't gonna be around, because we have all these [things], we get onto the next thing. We get on our phones, the next outrage comes. We have to continue it all the way through and I hope we do that."

A source at NBC told ET that it was "a rough week for everyone" in the wake of Lauer's firing last week.

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