- Bill Gates recounted a recent meeting with Donald Trump in an interview with a medical website.
- He said that, when he suggested hiring a White House science adviser, Trump immediately offered him the job. But Gates bluntly rebuffed the offer.
- He did take the chance to lobby the President to invest in protections against a disease pandemic – which he has recently warned is one of the biggest threats to humanity.
Bill Gates has said he rejected a personal offer from Donald Trump to be the White House’s scientific adviser because it would not be “a good use of my time.”
The billionaire Microsoft founder said Trump offered him the chance to join the White House team as its most senior science official at a meeting six weeks ago.
He described the encounter in an interview with the medical publication STAT. Here’s the relevant part:
“I mentioned: ‘Hey, maybe we should have a science adviser.'”
“He said: Did I want to be the science adviser?”
That’s not the answer Gates was looking for. “That’s not a good use of my time,” Gates recalled telling the president.
Gates admitted he doesn’t know what would have happened if he’d said yes. “I didn’t put him to the test, whether that was a serious thing or not. He probably himself didn’t know if he was serious. It was a friendly thing. He was being friendly.”
Gates said the meeting, his third with Trump, was an attempt to convince him to invest government resources in plans to combat pandemic diseases, which he believes could kill millions of people around the world at a stroke.
He made a similar argument at a public conference last week, where he told attendees: “The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war.”
Gates told STAT he tried to convince Trump, who is sceptical of US spending on aid and disease prevention overseas, that the US needs to invest in fighting pandemics for its own good.
His logic was that a major disease could wipe out millions of Americans as well as people in less developed countries.
Paraphrasing his argument to Trump, Gates told STAT that “even in a totally nationalistic framework, you don’t want lots of Americans to die from flu or smallpox or some new pathogen.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.