After it was reported that President Donald Trump may have rejected the legitimacy of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape to multiple individuals, "Access Hollywood" hosts Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover took a moment out in Monday night's broadcast of the show to remind the public that, no, actually the tape captures a real thing that truly did, you know, happen.
"We wanted to clear something that has been reported across the media landscape. Let us make this perfectly clear: The tape is very real," Morales said. "Remember his excuse at the time was 'locker-room talk.' He said every one of those words."
TRUMP: The "Access Hollywood" tape might be fake
ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: What you talkin' 'bout Willis? pic.twitter.com/EOFtO26czr
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 28, 2017
When the tape of Trump's 2005 conversation with former "Access" host Billy Bush first hit the public in October 2016, Trump acknowledged that the voice on the leaked footage was indeed him.
In a statement at that time, Trump said, "This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago." He added, "Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended." At no time during the rest of the contentious 2016 election cycle did the Republican nominee ever cast any doubts as to the content of the footage.
Yet, as was reported in a New York Times article published last Saturday and credited to Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns, the president may now be questioning the tape's veracity.
"But something deeper has been consuming Mr. Trump," the piece reads. "He sees the calls for [Alabama GOP senatorial candidate Roy Moore] to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous 'Access Hollywood' tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after." It adds that the president, "suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently."
Haberman would reassert this report via Twitter, claiming this conspiratorial line of thinking had first been witnessed in the president as early as January.
During a Monday afternoon briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sent mixed messages about the president's position.
"No. Like I just said, the President hasn't changed his position," Sanders said. "I think if anything that the President questions it's the media's reporting on that accuracy." The meaning of this statement is fully unclear at this time.
When pushed on the same subject later in the briefing, Sanders said, "Look, I said that he'd already addressed it and that we didn't have any updates to that. I said, what he didn't like and what he found troubling were the accounts that are being reported now."