The Microsoft founder was asked about his relationship with the deceased financier during an extensive interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff.
“You had several 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 him, as in You yourself said, hoping to raise money?” Woodruff asked.
“Uh, you know, I had dinner with him. I’m sorry to do that,” Gates replied. “He had relationships with people that he said would, you know, give to global health, which is what interests me. There doesn’t go nearly enough philanthropy in that direction.”
“Those meetings were a mistake,” he said. “What they said didn’t result, and I cut them off. You know, it was a long time ago. There’s—you know, so there’s nothing new in that.”
Woodruff noted that Gates continued to meet for years after the first meeting with Epstein. Melinda Gates, who was supposed to be angry about The friendship reportedly began to meet with divorce lawyers in 2019, when her husband’s relationship with Epstein first became public. She was worried about the relationship since 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported in May. The couple formalized their divorce last month, after announcing that they would separate earlier this year.
Epstein killed himself in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal charges of sex-trafficking girls as young as 14. She pleaded guilty in 2008 to a felony charge of involving a minor and of prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months in prison but served only 13.
“What did you do when you found out about his background?” Woodruff asked.
“Well, you know, I’ve said I’m sorry for those dinners, and there’s nothing new in that,” Gates said.
When asked if there were any lessons to be learned from the experience, Gates said: “Well, he’s dead, so, uh, in general, you’ve always got to be careful, uh, and, you know, I’ve got to be careful about that.” But very proud of what we have done. Very proud of the work we have done and the foundation. This is what I wake up every day and focus on.”