Bill Gates has acknowledged that hanging out with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was a bad move. The former Microsoft CEO told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that it "was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there." Gates met Epstein multiple times years after the financier served time in prison for sex offenses including soliciting prostitution from a minor. Gates said he had "several dinners" with Epstein, hoping to raise money for global health issues, but when it looked like Epstein's claim to be able to raise billions "wasn't a real thing, that relationship ended." Gates made similar remarks after Epstein's prison suicide in 2019, saying Epstein's promises were a "mirage."
Sources told the New York Times in 2019 that when the Gates Foundation sent a team to Epstein's home in 2011 to discuss fundraising, he argued that his crimes were no worse than "stealing a bagel." Another team had serious doubt about Epstein's credibility after he claimed to have access to trillions of dollars, but the meetings with Gates continued. Gates flew on Epstein's private plane in 2013, though sources say Epstein, who had bragged about the connection, complained in 2014 that Gates had stopped talking him. Gates declined to comment to CNN on reports that disagreements over Epstein played a role in his divorce from Melinda Gates. "It's a time of reflection, and at this point, I need to go forward," he said. "Within the family, we'll heal the best that we can." (Read more Bill Gates stories.)