|Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations|
January 20, 2017 – March 25, 2017
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Born||Boris Alexandrovich Epshteyn
August 14, 1982
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Education||Georgetown University (BS)
Georgetown University (JD)
Boris Alexandrovich Epshteyn (Russian: Бори́с Алекса́ндрович Эпштейн; born August 14, 1982) is a Russian-born American Republican political strategist, investment banker, and attorney. He is currently the Chief Political Analyst at Sinclair Broadcast Group. He was a senior advisor to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign for President of the United States, and previously worked on the McCain-Palin campaign. Following Trump's election, he was named director of communications for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and then assistant communications director for surrogate operations in the administration, until he resigned in March 2017.
Epshteyn was born in 1982 in Moscow, Soviet Union, the son of Anna Shulkina and Aleksandr Epshteyn. His family is Russian Jewish. In 1993, he immigrated with his family to Plainsboro Township, New Jersey.
Epshteyn is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (BSFS, 2004). During his time as an undergraduate at Georgetown, Epshteyn became a brother of the Eta Sigma chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity. He graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center with a law degree.
Following his graduation from law school, Epshteyn was part of the finance practice of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy New York. He worked on securities transactions, private placements, and bank finance.
In 2008, Epshteyn was a communications aide with the McCain-Palin campaign. While at the campaign, he was part of a rapid response task force which concentrated on issues related to the vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Epshteyn was managing director of business and legal affairs at the boutique investment bank West America Securities Corporation. He is managing director of business and legal affairs for investment banking firm TGP Securities. In October 2013, Epshteyn moderated a panel at the investment conference "Invest in Moscow!" The panel was composed mainly of Moscow city government officials, including Sergey Cheremin, a city minister who heads Moscow's foreign economic and international relations department.
In September 2016, Epshteyn responded to a question from MSNBC's Hallie Jackson by offering a new explanation for why a portrait of Trump – paid for by the Donald J. Trump Foundation – wound up on display at Trump National Doral Miami, a Trump-owned for-profit golf resort in Florida. Epshteyn said, "There are IRS rules which specifically state that when a foundation has an item, an individual can store those items – on behalf of the foundation – in order to help it with storage costs... And that's absolutely proper." Epshteyn's explanation was, in effect, that Trump hadn't used his foundation to buy some art for his resort, which would be self-dealing. Instead, Trump's resort was helping the foundation – which has no employees or office space of its own – to store one of its possessions.
In September 2016, the media watchdog organization Media Matters for America criticized CNN, Fox News, and PBS for failing to disclose Epshteyn's "financial ties to the former Soviet Union, which include consulting through Strategy International LLC for 'entities doing business in Eastern Europe' and moderating a Russian-sponsored conference on 'investment opportunities in Moscow.'"
In an October 2016 New York Times article, three political commentators said in separate interviews that Epshteyn "often acted in a rude, condescending manner toward show staffers, makeup artists and others." Joy Reid, an MSNBC show host, said "Boris is abrasive. That is who he is both on the air and off."
Epshteyn became a special assistant in the Trump administration as it took office. He wrote Trump's controversial statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2017, which omitted any mention of the Jewish people. Following criticism of the omission, press secretary Sean Spicer defended the statement as written by "an individual who is both Jewish and the descendent of Holocaust survivors." At the end of March 2017, it was reported that unnamed sources had said Epshteyn was resigning.
In mid-April 2017, Sinclair announced it had hired Epshteyn as its senior political analyst. Regarding the appointment, Scott Livingston at Sinclair said in part, "We understand the frustration with government and traditional institutions." Epshteyn said in part, "I greatly admire Sinclair’s mission to provide thoughtful impactful reporting throughout the country." At the time, Variety also noted Jared Kushner's December 2016 revelation of discussions between the Trump campaign and the company and content provided to the company which, the report said, Sinclair had "vehemently denied".
Following a bar fight in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2014, Epshteyn was charged with misdemeanor assault. The charge was dropped after he agreed to undergo anger management counseling and perform community service.
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