TV host Billy Bush is leaving NBC effective immediately after reaching a settlement with the network. Bush has been under pressure since an obscene conversation about touching women with Republican nominee Donald Trump during a 2005 Access Hollywood segment was leaked to the media.
"Billy Bush will be leaving the Today show's 9am hour, effective today," an internal memo sent to staff by Senior Vice Presidential Noah Oppenheim stated. "While he was a new member of the Today team, he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family. We wish him success as he goes forward."
Bush released a statement saying: "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."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a source close to the negotiation said NBC did not attach a non-compete clause in Bush's settlement and he is free to take up a new job immediately.
Bush was suspended on 9 October, pending review, after the hot-mic audio was released. NBC reported that he apologised in a personal statement after the audio was released, saying he was "embarrassed and ashamed" and although the incident happened 11 years ago, "that's no excuse".
The 45-year-old TV personality hired Los Angeles litigator Marshall Grossman to negotiate his separation from NBC. The Today host and the network negotiated the terms of his exit last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Grossman defended his client's participation in the Trump tape, saying the then-Access Hollywood anchor was not in a position to challenge the star of NBC's The Apprentice. "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 said.
News of Bush's departure come on the heels of Melania Trump accusing him of "egging on" her husband in the hot-mic tape. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Melania said her husband, Donald Trump, and Bush were engaging in "boy talk" and blamed the media for how her husband was talking. Her remarks sparked the hashtag #BillyBushMadeMeDoIt on Twitter.