Seated at the defendant’s table in a Manhattan courtroom alongside former President Trump on Tuesday were his attorneys Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina.
At the end of the table was another man: Boris Epshteyn, a longtime Trump aide and his in-house counsel, who has ascended to be one of the former president’s closest advisers as he mounts a third White House bid while navigating a slew of legal troubles.
Epshteyn worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, and he was at the center of high profile efforts to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election. In the process, he has generated his share of critics who question his influence on the former president.
Who is Epshteyn?
Trump notoriously cycles through aides and sours on advisers quickly, but Epshteyn has managed to remain in the New York mogul’s orbit dating back to his first White House campaign.
Epshteyn, a Georgetown Law graduate, joined the 2016 Trump campaign as a communications aide who often appeared on television to defend Trump. He also worked on the Inaugural Committee, and he later joined the 2020 campaign as an adviser for coalitions.
Following 2016, Epshteyn, who was born in Moscow and immigrated to the U.S. as a child, was among a list of contacts sought by House Intelligence Committee investigators probing Russia’s interference in that year’s election.
After the 2020 election, Epshteyn was one of a handful of prominent figures working on efforts to challenge and try to overturn Trump’s election loss in key swing states.
He appeared at a now infamous press conference with former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell at the Republican National Committee headquarters in which they made numerous claims that the 2020 election results were fraudulent, though he did not speak.
Between stints working for Trump, Epshteyn had a platform as chief political commentator for Sinclair Broadcast Group. Epshteyn’s segments were briefly required to run on Sinclair-owned stations, generating controversy over the right-leaning nature of his commentary.
What is his role now?
Epshteyn’s title is counsel and senior adviser to Trump and his 2024 White House campaign, weighing in on a host of issues and frequently communicating with the former president.
Epshteyn was one of just a handful of aides who joined Trump for the trip on Tuesday to the Manhattan courthouse, where the former president was arraigned on 34 felony counts over his role in a hush money scheme ahead of the 2016 campaign. Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Epshteyn was seated with Trump and his outside lawyers handling the case at the defendant’s table in photos from the courtroom.
David Urban, a former Trump campaign adviser, noted Tuesday on CNN that Epshteyn and senior adviser Jason Miller were accompanying the former president as he made his way through the courthouse. Urban described Miller and Epshteyn as the type of aides who would pump Trump up and make him feel more confident about his legal predicament.
One former Trump campaign official told The Hill that Epshteyn is part of a relatively tight circle of aides who speak frequently with the former president and have retained a place in Trump’s orbit through the tumultuous last few years.
That official noted that Epshteyn has his enemies within the former president’s circle, but that he has earned Trump’s trust by showing he is willing to be an attack dog and fight for him.
That trust has also translated to a financial commitment. Federal records showed Trump’s political action committee paid Epshteyn nearly $200,000 in 2022 for consulting work.
He has been at the center of controversy
Epshteyn has been a source of controversy and has attracted his share of criticism from those within Trump’s inner circle who believe he amplifies the former president’s worst instincts in some cases.
He was involved in many of the efforts to try and overturn the 2020 election results in key swing states, and he was reportedly involved in the scheme to develop a slate of alternative electors who would back Trump in the Electoral College.
Federal agents reportedly seized his phone last summer as part of a widening investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Epshteyn last September also testified before a Georgia grand jury hearing information about efforts to overturn the 2020 results in the state.
Trump aides and lawyers have also complained at times about Epshteyn’s counsel to the former president, arguing he has encouraged Trump to pursue ill-advised lawsuits.
Epshteyn reportedly encouraged Trump to pursue a lawsuit in Florida against the New York attorney general last November. The Washington Post reported that Alan Garten, a longtime Trump Organization lawyer, wrote in an email to others, including Epshteyn: “Great job Boris. Another frivolous lawsuit. What a joke.”
Trump withdrew the lawsuit in January.
Updated at 9:18 a.m.