Billy Bush says he risked getting fired if he rebuked Trump

Last Updated Oct 14, 2016 9:51 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES -- An attorney for Billy Bush is defending the TV personality’s part in a lewd 2005 exchange with Donald Trump.

Marshall Grossman told The Hollywood Reporter that Bush would have been fired from his then-job with “Access Hollywood” if he’d been passive or told Trump to shut up.

“If Billy had been passive or responded ‘Shut the f**k up’ to Trump, Billy would have been out of a job the next day,” Grossman said.

Grossman noted Bush was an NBC Universal employee talking with NBC’s “The Apprentice” star. The attorney, who was quoted by the trade paper online Thursday, declined comment when reached by phone.

Bush, who joined NBC News’ “Today” as a co-host in recent months, was suspended after the tape became public last week. NBC is said to be privately negotiating his exit.

Both NBC and “Access Hollywood” declined to comment on the report. A publicist for Bush didn’t immediately respond when asked for comment.