Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said it was a “mistake” for him to meet multiple times with convicted sex offender and accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, including after the disgraced financier’s conviction in 2008.
The billionaire philanthropist was speaking with NBC News’ Samantha Guthrie for the Tuesday episode of the “Today” show.
The two discussed a wide array of topics, including Gates’ forthcoming book, fellow billionaire Elon Musk, COVID-19 vaccines and Gates’ recent divorce from wife Melinda.
Toward the end of the interview, Guthrie asked Gates why he kept meeting with Epstein even after his conviction and whether he regretted doing so.
Gates replied that he “certainly made a huge mistake” in meeting Epstein, “not only meeting him in the first place” but also meeting him “a number of times.”
“I’d add that to the list of big mistakes,” he said.
“I had a goal of raising money for global health,” Gates said, trying to explain his rationale for meeting the convicted sex offender. “I didn’t realize that meeting with him almost downplayed the incredibly awful things he did.”
“You know, I learned more about that over time,” the billionaire added.
When Guthrie then asked him if he had an intuition that meeting with Epstein might not be right, Gates replied, “No. He was a bad person and, you know, I had a reason that I thought those meetings would lead to something good. But I shouldn’t have done them.”
Gates isn’t the only high-profile figure to have connections to Epstein. Others include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, businessman Leslie Wexner, attorney Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
The notorious financier was accused of engaging in sexual abuse, child prostitution and sex trafficking alongside his long-term companion, Ghislaine Maxwell. Epstein owned a private island in the Virgin Islands that allegedly was the site of unlawful sexual activity with women and girls.
He died in a New York jail cell in 2019 in what was ruled a suicide.
Another major topic Gates and Guthrie discussed in the interview was the divorce that ended his 27-year marriage.
A year ago on Tuesday, he made a surprising announcement via social media that he and Melinda “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
In what was the first anniversary of that shocking announcement, Guthrie asked Gates how he was coming to terms with the divorce.
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“Well, the divorce is definitely a sad thing,” he said. “You know, I have a responsibility for causing a lot of pain to my family.”
“You know, it was a tough year. I feel good that all of us are moving forward now,” Gates continued. “My oldest got married. Melinda and I are, you know, continuing to work together.”
“So, you know, it was sad and tragic but, you know, we’re — we’re moving together.”
Guthrie also asked Gates about allegations of his infidelity in the marriage.
“I certainly made mistakes, and I take responsibility,” he said. “I don’t think delving into the particulars at this point is constructive.
“But, yes, I caused pain and I feel terrible about that.”