Bill Gates raised eyebrows by attending a meet-and-greet President Trump held for tech CEOs a week after inauguration; the billionaire philanthropist seemed not to hold many values in common with the proprietor of Trump University.
Now it’s emerged that Trump recently offered Gates a job in his administration, which Gates declined in an ice-cold way that deserves a citation from the Senate Special Select Subcommittee on Shade.
Last month, Gates and Trump met at the White House. Gates had criticized Trump’s “America First” philosophy in a newsletter from his philanthropic foundation, calling it “concerning.” Now Gates has revealed what the two talked about: Gates lobbied for a universal flu shot, and Trump was enthusiastic about the concept — so enthusiastic that he offered one of the world’s richest men a gig.
In a new interview with Stat, Gates described his pitch to Trump: “You should associate yourself with American innovation. Wouldn’t you love to have the universal flu vaccine be something that really got kicked off and energized by you?” he told the president. Gates said Trump immediately got the FDA commissioner on the phone and said, “Hey, Gates says there’s a universal flu vaccine. Is that crazy?”
The FDA commissioner said he’d look into that, and Gates took the opportunity to suggest that Trump fill the long-vacant position of White House science adviser.
Trump then offered Gates the job.
“That’s not a good use of my time,” Gates replied.
So the job sits unfilled. It remains unclear who would accept the gig, since Trump and his administration have made it clear they’re not a fan of what is traditionally known as science. A climate-change denier, Trump has appointed others with similar views to top posts: EPA chief Scott Pruitt and new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to name two.
Trump has moved to roll back numerous environmental regulations, has removed mentions of climate change from several government websites and has reduced the size of national monuments to allow oil drilling. A proposal sits on his desk to weaken protections for future endangered species. And last week, Pruitt moved to limit the types of science that EPA officials can consult on the job.