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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Swap donations with someone else’s foundation." That was a suggestion from the then-director of the MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito — his proposed solution to the problem of accepting donations from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Why it matters: Ito's proposed solution seems to have worked. Epstein took credit for millions of donations to the Media Lab from Bill Gates and Leon Black — and even after a four-month investigation by law firm Goodwin Procter, there have been no findings that anything was amiss with any of those donations.

Driving the news: MIT has released an unredacted version of the 61-page Goodwin Procter report into Epstein's donations to the university.

  • The report recounts a 2013 conversation in which Ito suggested the swapped-donations strategy as a means to conceal the origin of Epstein money.
  • The following year, Epstein took credit for a $2 million donation from Bill Gates and a $5 million donation from Leon Black, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management.

Gates denied to Goodwin Procter that his donation had anything to do with Epstein, while Black refused to talk to the law firm.

  • "We were unable to connect with representatives of Mr Black," Goodwin Procter lead investigator Roberto Braceras tells Axios.
  • Goodwin Procter managed to find no evidence that the Gates and Black donations were made at Epstein's behest, or that they represented Epstein money laundered via the billionaires.

On Friday, MIT announced that it had placed a mechanical engineering professor, Seth Lloyd, on paid administrative leave following the Goodwin Procter review, as Axios reported.

My thought bubble: MIT is currently putting together "a clear and comprehensive gift policy" and "a process to properly vet donors". But if the Leon Black donations were indeed Epstein-related — and there's no evidence to suggest that they weren't — the results of this investigation suggest that Epstein and Ito have already demonstrated an easy way to circumvent any such policies.

Go deeper: Exclusive: MIT and Jeffrey Epstein's billionaire enablers

Go deeper

14 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

15 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 15 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."

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