Mega-billionaire Bill Gates appeared flustered and nervous on Tuesday night when PBS anchor Judy Woodruff repeatedly pressed him on his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Punctuating the awkwardness of the exchange, the Microsoft founder pointedly noted that Epstein was “dead” after Woodruff asked him if he learned from the mistakes he made with the deceased sex criminal.
Ostensibly appearing on PBS Newshour to discuss his philanthropy and recent grants made by his foundation, Gates soon found himself under the microscope over his lengthy friendship with Epstein, who died by suicide in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking of minors.
“It was reported at that time that you had a number of meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, who—when you met him 10 years ago—he was convicted of soliciting prostitution from minors,” Woodruff said. “What did you know about him when you were meeting with him, as you’ve said yourself, in the hopes of raising money?”
Stammering immediately, Gates appeared to be fiddling with his now nonexistent wedding ring as he began to formulate a response. (Melinda Gates, who began meeting with divorce lawyers in October 2019 over her then-husband’s dealings with Epstein, divorced Bill in August.)
“You know, I had dinner with him. I regret doing that,” an anxious Gates muttered. “He had relationships with people he said, you know, would give to global health, which is an interest I have. Not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction.”
“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.”
Woodruff, however, pointed out that Gates continued to meet with Epstein for several years after their first encounter in 2013. The Daily Beast reported in May that Melinda Gates was furious over her husband’s friendship with Epstein and warned him to stop associating with the wealthy sex offender. Epstein, meanwhile, advised Gates on how to end his “toxic” marriage at the time, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“What did you do when you found out about his background?” Woodruff wondered aloud.
“You know, I said I regretted having those dinners, and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing new on that,” Gates shrugged.
“Is there a lesson for you, for anyone else, looking at this?” Woodruff fired back, prompting a curious response from the billionaire philanthropist.
“Well, he’s dead, so...you know, in general, you always have to be careful,” Gates stuttered, throwing his hands in the air. “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.”
Let the conspiracy theories begin!