NBC has known about the Donald Trump tape heard around the world longer than what execs have publicly let on, sources told TMZ. The network execs were able to devise a plan to release the tape at the moment they felt would be most effective. Trump's comments were caught by a hot mic during a 2005 taping for an Access Hollywood segment with Billy Bush, host at the time. Bush is said to have bragged about the tape to NBC staffers at a party this summer for the Rio Olympics. Since the tape's release, Bush has been suspended indefinitely, although sources said in the past NBC execs haven't had a problem with Bush's inappropriate comments, including the comments on the Trump tape.

NBC-connected sources told TMZ top execs have known about the tape but didn't want to release it too early in the election. (Execs have said they'd only known about the tape for a week.) Sources also said NBC execs who openly dislike Trump planned to drop the tape two days before the second presidential debate so that the news cycle could focus on the tape and therefore affect the debate. However, plans hit a snag when the news turned to Hurricane Matthew, pushing some execs to want to wait until Monday, after the hurricane, to release the tape. But others wanted the tape to be released before Sunday's debate so it was leaked to The Washington Post.  

According to sources, NBC's rollout for the tape included releasing an edited version that left out Bush's own inappropriate behavior, like pushing Trump to get a hug from the soap star they were meeting and pushing to get a hug himself, and saying, "Jeez! Your girl's hot as s*** in the purple!" NBC reportedly wanted to protect Bush.

Although a Today show boss said, "There is simply no excuse for Billy's language and behavior on that tape," sources said NBC higher-ups overlooked Bush's comments, some which appear on tape, including: "You look hot today" and "Look at her legs." "His bosses had no problem with Billy's offhanded remarks about women…for years," TMZ reported.

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