Bill Gates has floundered while being grilled on his past dinners with Jeffrey Epstein, awkwardly trying to draw a line under the concerns raised by the interviewer by saying, ‘Well, he’s dead.’
The Microsoft founder, 65, first met Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse in 2011 after the financier had been convicted of soliciting sex from a minor in 2008.
His continued meetings with Epstein, until at least 2013, are reported to have remained ‘a sore spot’ for Melinda which factored into their divorce which was announced this year after 27 years of marriage.
PBS presenter Judy Woodruff asked: ‘You had a number of meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, who – when you met him 10 years ago – was convicted of soliciting prostitution from minors. What did you know about him when you were meeting with him, as you’ve said yourself, in the hopes of raising money?’
Gates immediately started stammering and fidgeting with his ring finger as he replied: ‘Uh, you know, I had dinners with him. Uh, I regret doing that. He had relationships he said with people he said would give to public health. Not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction.’
Woodruff asked Gates whether there was a ‘lesson’ for him in the Epstein controversy. He replied: ‘Well, he’s dead, so… you know, in general, you always have to be careful.’
Gates at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2011
‘Those meetings were a mistake,’ he added. ‘They didn’t result in what he purported, and I cut them off. You know, that goes back a long time ago now. There’s – so there’s nothing new on that.’
But Woodruff noted that he continued to meet with Epstein over several years in personal and business settings.
Melinda was reported to have been ‘furious’ at Bill’s relationship with Epstein after the couple visited the predator’s Upper East Side townhouse in September 2013.
Epstein meanwhile provided advice to Gates on how he might end his ‘toxic’ marriage, sources told The Daily Beast earlier this year.
Woodruff asked what Gates did when he found out about Epstein’s background.
He shrugged and said: ‘Well you know, I said I regretted having those dinners, and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing new on that.’
The interviewer followed up by asking: ‘Is there a lesson for you, for anyone else, looking at this?’
Gates threw his hands up in the air and responded: ‘Well, he’s dead, so… you know, in general, you always have to be careful.’
He quickly changed topic to his charity, saying: ‘And you know, the, you know, I’m – I’m very proud of what we’ve done in philanthropy and very proud of the work of the foundation. You know, that’s—that’s what I get up every day and focus on.’
In August, Gates told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he ‘certainly’ had concerns about Epstein, who had pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2008 of procuring a child for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute – years before the tech mogul met the financier.
‘I had several dinners with him hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts he had might emerge. When it looked like that wasn’t a real thing that relationship ended,’ Gates said at the time.
‘It was a huge mistake to spend time with him and give him the credibility of being there. There were lots of others in that same situation, but I made a mistake.’
Bill and Melinda Gates couple are pictured with their three kids in a 2018 family photo. The kids – Jennifer (center), Rory (right) and Phoebe (left) are now aged 25, 21 and 18. Bill and Melinda announced their split in May after 27 years of marriage
Woodruff also asked Gates about what was going to happen to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since the couple announced their divorce.
He said that ‘the priorities that Melinda and I believe in, global health and education, that will still be where our work is done.’
He added that some additional advisers were going to be brought in at board level and said that the foundation would continue its work in helping governments deal with the pandemic.
At a conference in Sun Valley in Idaho in July – dubbed ‘Billionaire Summer Camp – Gates opened up about his divorce during an ‘off the record’ question-and-answer session.
‘He fessed up to messing up,’ one of the attendees told the New York Post.
‘He basically referred to the fact that it [the divorce] was his fault.’
The source added: ‘He did seem a bit emotional about it. He might have been on the verge of tears.’
Melinda was reported to have held ‘a number of calls’ in October 2019 with divorce lawyers, The Wall Street Journal reported in May.
That was the same month that the New York Times reported that Bill had met with Epstein ‘on numerous occasions’ starting in 2011.
The couple announced their divorce in May and it was finalised in August.
The couple have three children together Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18.
In June, a spokesman for Gates said that ‘many lies’ had been told about the reasons for Bill’s split from Melinda.
‘It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many lies published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates’s divorce,’ the spokesman told Insider.
‘The rumors and speculation surrounding Mr. Gates are becoming increasingly absurd and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge are being characterized as ‘sources.”
JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S UNDOING: A TIMELINE OF THE MILLIONAIRE PEDOPHILE’S DOWNFALL
1999 – Virginia Roberts Giuffre is allegedly recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell to became Epstein’s ‘sex slave,’ at 17. She also claimed that he forced her to have sex with his friend Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth.
2002 – Trump tells New York Magazine that his friend Epstein ‘likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.’
2005 – A 14-year-old girl tells police that Epstein molested her at his Palm Beach mansion.
May 2006 – Epstein and two of his associates are charged with multiple counts of unlawful sex acts with a minor. State attorney of the time Barry Krischer, referred the case to a grand jury who heard from just two of the 12 girls law enforcement had gathered as potential witnesses. They returned just one single count of soliciting prostitution.
July 2006 – The case is referred to the FBI by the Florida Palm Beach police who were unhappy with how the case was handled.
2007 – Epstein’s lawyers meet with Miami’s top federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta, who would later become the Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. They secretly negotiate the ‘deal of a lifetime’.
June 2008 – After pleading guilty to two prostitution charges, the millionaire was sentenced to 18 months in a low-security prison in exchange for prosecutors ending their investigation into his sex acts with minors and give him immunity from future prosecution related to those charges. In reality, Epstein was able to work from his office six days a week while supposedly incarcerated at the jail.
July 2008 – Accusers learned of the deal for the first time.
July 2009 – Epstein is released from jail five months early.
July 2018 – The Miami Herald publishes investigative journalist Julie K. Brown’s exposé on Epstein’s long history of alleged sexual abuse and news of the ‘deal of a lifetime’ after Acosta was made Labor Secretary.
February 2019 – The justice department opens an internal review into Epstein’s plea deal.
July 7, 2019 – Epstein is arrested after his private jet lands at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport from Paris. At the same time, federal agents break into his Manhattan townhouse where they uncovered hundreds of photographs of naked minors.
July 8, 2019 – Epstein is charged with sex trafficking charges which detail how he created a network of underage girls in Florida and New York, paying girls as young as 14 to provide ‘massages and sex acts.’ The charges carry a sentence of up to 45 years in prison.
July 11, 2019 – More than a dozen women, not previously known to law enforcement, came forward to accuse him of sex abuse.
July 24 – Epstein was found unconscious in his cell after an apparent suicide attempt. He was moved to suicide watch at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
August 9, 2019 – More than 2,000 documents are unsealed which reveal the lurid allegations against Epstein in detail.
August 10, 2019 – Epstein is found dead in his cell.