Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates admitted he “made a huge mistake” in meeting convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein several times, and should have heeded his ex-wife Melinda French Gates’ warnings about the now-deceased predator.
“I certainly made a huge mistake not only meeting him in the first place, but I met with him a number of times,” Gates told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Tuesday. “I had a goal of raising money for global health. I didn’t realize that in meeting with him almost downplayed the incredibly awful things he did.”
Gates added that he should have listened to his former wife, who had previously expressed her distaste for Epstein.
“I’d add that to the list of big mistakes including, where Melinda’s advice was sound and I should have followed that sooner than I did,” he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.
Gates and French Gates announced their separation in 2021, but continue to work together for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to improve access to health care around the world.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” in March, French Gates said her husband’s relationship with Epstein was a point of contention for the couple.
“I did not like that he’d had meetings with Jeffrey Epstein, no,” she told Gayle King. “I made that clear to him. ... [Epstein] was abhorrent. He was evil personified. I had nightmares about it afterward.”
This is not the first time Gates has been questioned about his ties to Epstein, who in 2019 was found dead in an apparent suicide in his New York City prison cell. In a September interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff, he appeared evasive about their relationship.
“Well, he’s dead, so, uhh, in general, you always have to be careful,” Gates said at the time.
Guthrie also asked Gates to address allegations that he had extramarital affairs and whether that contributed to his separation.
“I don’t think delving into the particulars at this point is constructive, but yes, I caused pain, and I feel terrible about that,” he said.
Several instances of questionable behavior by Gates have made headlines in recent years.
Microsoft said Gates was asked to stop sending flirtatious emails to a mid-level female employee at the company in 2008. Gates’ private office characterized the claims as “false.”
Gates was asked to step down from Microsoft in 2020, more than a decade after that incident, while an investigation into a previous affair he had with a former colleague was underway. A spokesman for Gates confirmed that affair to The Wall Street Journal, saying it “ended amicably.”