Bill Gates has said Donald Trump twice asked him if there was a difference between HIV and HPV, and seemed particularly interested in his daughter’s looks.
The comments were recorded at a recent Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation meeting, where Gates took questions from staff. The footage was aired for the first time on last night’s episode of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.
“He wanted to know if there was a difference between HIV and HPV,” Gates said of Trump. “So I was able to explain that those are rarely confused with each other.”
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) May 17, 2018
He said he first met Trump after he was elected, having previously ducked the future president when they were both at the same place during the campaign.
That meeting took place in December 2016 at Trump Tower, followed by another in March 2017 at the White House. In both, the billionaire and philanthropist attempted to get Trump on board with science and innovation.
One such suggestion was for Trump to lead on the advancement of an HIV vaccine.
Gates shared that in each meeting Trump asked if HIV and HPV were different afflictions. He said Trump also questioned the safety of vaccines.
“He was considering a commission to look into ill-effects of vaccines,” Gates explained, adding that Trump was being advised by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the topic, who has been pushing debunked claims on the issue for years.
Gates said he told the president not to pursue that path.
While Trump hasn’t launched such a commission, he has gone after HIV/AIDS funding, and fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS after a half-dozen members quit in protest.
The Microsoft co-founder also revealed that the president spoke about his daughter, 22-year-old Jennifer Gates, in a way that left both he and Gates’s wife unsettled.
“He knew my daughter Jennifer, because Trump has this horse show thing down in Florida,” he said. “In fact, he went up to Jen and was being super nice, and then like 20 minutes later, he flew in in a helicopter to the same place. So obviously he had been driven away, but he wanted to make a grand entrance in a helicopter.”
“Anyway, when I first talked to him it was actually kind of scary how much he knew about my daughter’s appearance. Melinda didn’t like that too well.”
Gates’s full remarks follow.