The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Boris Epshteyn is a strategic advisor for U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign and also serves as the campaign’s point person for Jewish outreach in his capacity as co-chair of the “Jewish Voices for Trump” coalition.
A long-time Republican operative and campaign surrogate who served on the McCain and Romney campaigns, Epshteyn joined the Trump campaign early on and remained a supporter of President Trump ever since, serving with the 2016 campaign, then the inauguration, followed by a position in the White House before joining the Sinclair Broadcast Group as their Chief Political Commentator several years ago.
He now is back with the campaign and took some time to speak with Belaaz.
Q: Good morning Boris and thank you for your times, especially being so close to the election. Why don’t we start by introducing yourself?
Boris: Sure, it’s my pleasure. My family is originally from Russia where they ran away from due to the anti-Semitism that was rampant following the breakdown of the former Soviet Union, and along with it, the breakdown of socialism and communism.
We came here in 1993 as a family of Jewish refugees.
I am an attorney by trade, receiving my degree from Georgetown University and practiced law before involving myself in finance, where I was a partner at a boutique investment bank specializing in private equity and venture capital transactions.
I have been involved in Republican politics since 2008, beginning with the McCain campaign. In 2012, I was a surrogate with the Romney campaign and then was an early supporter of President Trump – he was the first and only candidate whom a backed.
I was first a supporter but then became an official surrogate before being promoted to senior advisor overseeing all surrogate messaging. After he won the election, I became the Director of Communications for the Presidential Inaugural Committee – which was a great honor.
After President Trump took office, I was hired as a Special Assistant to President Trump and Assistant Communications Director at the White House– also an amazing honor. I then left the White House and was hired by the Sinclair Broadcast Group to be their Chief Political Commentator.
I am now back with the Trump campaign as a strategic advisor as well as the co-chair of Jewish Voices for Trump, which is our Jewish outreach group, and serve as the campaign’s point person on outreach to the Jewish people, which is wonderful for me and amazing to be able to represent the President who is the greatest champion of the Jewish people and the State of Israel in the history of this country.
Q: You have a fascinating background and I find it especially interesting, considering the history with President Trump and the two previous Republican presidential nominees…
Boris: You know, I am a Republican, a proud conservative. Once the 2008 general election was set and John McCain was the nominee, that is who I backed. Same thing with Mitt Romney.
But I will tell you, it is a difference of night and day to work with President Trump, who I backed with my entire soul and body. Not because we belong to the same party. Not because he is a Republican. But because I absolutely believe in his views for America and his love for the country. So, my involvement now is a different level and honestly, my level of devotion is different as well.
Q: You are the co-chair of the Trump Campaign’s Jewish Voices for Trump coalition. Who are some of the other co-chairs and what is the purpose of the group?
Boris: We have a great group, including Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson, former assistant Secretary of Commerce Wayne Berman, attorney and activist Julie Strauss Levin, all who are my co-chairs.
The goal of this group is to galvanize the Jewish community and underscore the Jewish community’s love for President Trump and how amazing the President has been for the Jewish community in fighting anti-Semitism anywhere and everywhere as he has. For example, signing the Executive Order last year combatting anti-Semitism across all federal agencies, making sure that anti-Semitism is treated as the hate crime which it is and making sure that anti-Semitism is stomped out on college campuses.
The President is a champion of the Jewish people and a strong fighter against anti-Semitism. We already have seen NYU have to settle with the Department of Education under Title 6 after it was determined there was discrimination against Jews at NYU and now, they will be changing some of their policies – a direct outcome of the Executive Order signed by the President.
He signed the JUST Act into law, which made it easier for Holocaust victims and their descendants to receive restitution from Poland.
He signed the “Never Again” Holocaust Education bill into law, which helps ensure that never again will our people get slaughtered in a holocaust.
So, he has done so much for the Jewish people and that is what this coalition is all about. Pointing that out and bringing the message to Americans all across the country. And we have some great success so far.
And that just on the domestic front. We all know what he achieved in the foreign arena, his historic accomplishments, from moving recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of the state of Israel, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, stopping funding to the Palestinian Authority, ripping up the terrible, no good, Iran Nuclear Deal – which was an existential threat to the United States and Israel.
And of course, as we all know, the historic Abraham Accords, which have moved two major Arab countries toward Israel and away from Iran and other bad actors in the Middle East. And that has never happened before. You have the 1980 agreement between Egypt and Israel and the 1994 peace deal between Jordan and Israel but there have never been two major nations – in this case the Kingdom of Bahrain and the U.A.E. – which have moved toward Israel, with more to come.
In addition, this is a broad peace, a warm peace. One that is not just about national security but also about, business, finance, energy, travel and tourism.
You know, Shlomo, they say it is easier to get a Kosher meal in Abu Dhabi then it is in Washington, D.C.! So, it’s truly wonderful and now you have Saudi Arabia opening its skies to Israeli travel, not just to the U.A.E. but all across the world.
What President Trump has done for Israel has not been matched by anyone in the history of this country and I include former President Harry S. Truman in that – who recognized Israel in 1948.
So, this coalition is all about underscoring all the achievements of President Trump in regard to the Jewish people and Israel and showing a contrast between what the President has done and what Joe Biden stands for. Which is meeting with anti-Semites like Jacob Blake Sr., having anti-Semites speak at his convention, like Linda Sarsour. It has truly been disgusting to view the Democrats fall prey to the far-left and their anti-Semitism – that’s what it is.
And you know that Joe Biden stood with Iran and had billions of dollars sent to their terror regime as part of their nuclear deal when he was part of the Obama administration which he brags about so much.
Joe Biden is a disaster and a danger to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. And his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris is the same. She has people on her staff who are anti-Semitic. It’s truly dangerous to see what has happened to the far-left.
You know, I always say. The far left and the far right both have disgusting anti-Semites. But the difference is, is that the right absolutely throws theirs out while the far left elects theirs to Congress.
Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have all said anti-Semitic remarks. Jim Clyburn has minimized the Holocaust. It’s really scary.
Q: Does the President have any plans on interfering with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions in parts of New York City, which many people believe are unfairly targeting the Jewish people there, specifically their right to worship?
Boris: Well, he has tweeted about it already. He has tweeted about the fact that Mayor de Blasio – who I happen to think is the most inept, disgusting and frankly, anti-Semitic elected politician in at least the recent history of this country. Bill de Blasio is an embarrassment to America.
And it is obvious that he is targeting Jews because look what he has allowed the Black Lives Matter movement to do. They can dance in the streets, riot and loot. But our people can’t celebrate Sukkos and can’t dance in the streets and honor those who passed away? It is absolutely despicable. And the targeting of the Chassidim, the targeting of the more religious communities is extremely dangerous. Because that is where it starts.
We can not let those groups be targeted just because they dress in a particular way, or they act in a particular way. And Andrew Cuomo has been using a lot of that coded language, saying, ‘oh well this is just the religious community.’ Well the religious community has as much rights as any other community. And we have to fight for them.
And for Jews who are more secular – like myself – It is my job and it is my honor to make sure that no American, but no Jewish person specifically, is persecuted against.
And I am saying that as the Jewish point person for the Trump campaign.
I haven’t heard a peep from Aaron Keyak, who is my counterpart on the Biden campaign, I’m not sure if you asked him yet, and you should because what the Democrats are doing is targeting Jews. And that is not anywhere where any of us who know the history want to go. And Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo should not be allowed to do that.
Q: I’m curious what your honest assessment of the state of the race is right now, just a few days before the election?
Boris: Well Shlomo, I will tell you this. I had the honor of being the senior advisor on the 2016 campaign. And I was absolutely confident that we will win then. Having said that, I feel better now at this point then I did in 2016. The enthusiasm is on our side, the rallies are on our side.
I was a headliner at an Israelis for Trump campaign event last week and we had over 2,000 people.
Channel 12 in Israel did a story, they compared my rally with a rally Joe Biden did and his was empty!
We are getting people out there, people who are excited and motivated. Joe Biden doesn’t have anybody out there. President Trump is out every single day talking to and connecting with Americans while Joe Biden is doing nothing.
So, I think the choice is clear and that the President is going to have a resounding win. A resounding win on November 3rd.
Thank you so much, all the best.
(Interview By Belaaz’s Shlomo Schorr)