Is Donald Trump an Anti-Vaxxer? Bill Gates Said President Asked Him if Vaccines 'Weren't a Bad Thing'

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President Donald Trump walks towards Marine One while departing the White House to visit first lady Melania Trump at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on May 16 in Washington, D.C. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

In newly released footage from a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation event, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said President Donald Trump told him he was considering a commission to look into the "bad effects" of vaccines. "Don't do that," Gates said he told the president, and Trump has never publicly proposed such a commission. Yet the incident recalls Trump's longtime skeptical comments about vaccines.

Gates said that in two separate meetings since he was elected, Trump asked the billionaire philanthropist if "vaccines weren't a bad thing."

"He was considering a commission to look into the bad effects of vaccines and somebody, I think his name was Robert Kennedy Jr., was advising him that vaccines were causing bad things," Gates recalled. "And I said 'No, that's a dead end, that would be a bad thing, don't do that."

Exclusive footage obtained by All In... Bill Gates dishes on his meetings with Donald Trump. More tonight at 8PM ET. #inners pic.twitter.com/Zoehj1WTfk

— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) May 17, 2018

Robert Kennedy Jr., the son of former Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, has long pushed the now-debunked theory that vaccines cause autism. Shortly after Trump was elected president, Kennedy said he would head up a vaccine safety panel for the president, but the panel never materialized. Trump himself, however, has repeatedly tweeted about the supposed connection between vaccines and autism.

Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014

Autism WAY UP - I believe in vaccinations but not massive, all at once, shots. Too much for small child to handle. Govt. should stop NOW!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2014

Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2012

Look what happened to the autism rate from 1983-2008 since one-time massive shots were given to children-http://t.co/lpq2SveJ

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2012

A study says @Autism is out of control--a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations (cont) http://t.co/jthy8mww

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2012

I'm not against vaccinations for your children, I'm against them in 1 massive dose.Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2014

Despite the many tweets linking vaccines and autism, Trump has also insisted he isn't anti-vaccine, just against the current system of inoculation.

To all haters and losers: I am NOT anti-vaccine, but I am against shooting massive doses into tiny children. Spread shots out over time.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2014

The theory that vaccines cause autism emerged from a single 1997 study by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield. That study has since been discredited and retracted by the medial journal that published it and follow-up studies examining the link have found no evidence vaccines cause autism. But while the theory has been thoroughly debunked, belief in the link has led to falling inoculation rates, and the re-emergence of some diseases like measles that were eliminated in the U.S. by mass immunization programs.