It appears there may be a bit of a shakeup underway within the Trump administration. White House officials confirmed Sunday that Boris Epshteyn was leaving his high-profile position as a special assistant to President Donald Trump and leader of the Trump administration's television surrogate operation. But while Epshteyn may be looking to take a step back from the spotlight that his role managing White House officials' television appearances often places him in, he is not expected to leave the Trump administration entirely.
According to Politico, Epshteyn is expected to transition into a less-visible role within the Trump administration. "We are discussing opportunities within the administration," Politico reported a senior White House official said in an e-mailed statement.
Although it's unclear exactly why Epshteyn is reportedly changing positions, many have wondered if the move is a result of his increasingly contentious relationship with television networks. In an article published earlier in March, Politico characterized Epshteyn as "a combative Trump loyalist" after it was reported he'd allegedly threatened to deny a Fox News booker access to White House officials. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment. The verbal dispute reportedly began when he was unexpectedly questioned about Trump's controversial travel ban during an interview with Fox news anchor Bill Hemmer.
Epshteyn has also reportedly ruffled some feathers by making comments some perceived to be offensive while in various TV networks' green rooms. New York State Democratic Party chairman Basil Smikle told Politico that "Boris suggested affirmative action means that institutions have to lower their standards to let African-Americans in" while the two chatted off the air at Fox News. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment on this statement as well.
Yet his colleagues within the Trump administration have long defended Epshteyn as a man willing to go to bat for his candidate no matter how rough the game looks. "Boris is someone who is willing to go on the battlefield in support or defense of candidate and now President Trump," Politico reported Kellyanne Conway once said. "I think some people are looking for a body count," she said in response to criticism of Epshteyn's behavior.
Epshteyn, who is reportedly a friend and former Georgetown University classmate of Trump's son Eric, joined Trump's presidential campaign as a surrogate in 2016. He then became a senior adviser to the Trump campaign and often appeared on television during the election to promote Trump's candidacy and policy proposals. Later Epshteyn served as director of communications for the Trump-Pence Presidential Inaugural Committee, before being offered a role within the Trump administration.