Boris Epshteyn is, by most accounts, a complete asshole.
During his tenure as a senior advisor to presidential candidate Donald Trump, he garnered a reputation for bullying and harassing cable news panelists and hosts—even those on Trump-friendly Fox News. He’s also pled guilty to assault charges.
If that weren’t enough, the Soviet-born Epshteyn came under fire in September for his various financial ties to Russia, which included consulting work and moderating a 2013 panel in Moscow comprised of Russian officials called “Invest in Moscow!” that touted investment opportunities in the country. The 34-year-old, who is Jewish, also stands guilty of penning President Trump’s much-derided Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that failed to mention the Jewish people. After several demotions, he left the Trump White House in March under a cloud of mystery, only to be rewarded with a gig as chief political analyst for the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group.
On Friday, Epshteyn, still abiding by his oath of fealty to Trump, stopped by HBO’s Real Time to clash with its lefty host, Bill Maher.
Things were boring at first, with Maher pledging that he’d refrain from being “adversarial” and Epshteyn offering that he thinks Trump will “be President for eight years”—prompting Maher to make a gentlemen’s bet with him that he’d be out of office by Christmas.
“Let’s just go to the part that’s incontrovertible: the Russians meddled into our election. All 17 of our intelligence agencies said that,” said Maher.
Epshteyn obfuscated, saying “We can get into the back and forth and the minutiae of that letter you’re talking about,” attempting to parse the semantics of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s announcement that Russia “intended to interfere with the US election process.” A more thorough report issued in January by the DNI stated, “We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”
Maher didn’t let up: “Answer my question, first—all 17 of them. Whose side are you on?.. All 17 of our agencies say this, you don’t back them up?”
Only more dodging from Epshteyn. “So there is a special counsel, and the special counsel will come out with an answer. And I’m confident that it’ll show that—just like the President said—no collusion,” he said.
“I specifically said this is not a collusion question,” fired back Maher. “This is the part that’s not controversial. Meddling. Russia meddled in our election. Please just admit that.”
The long-time Putin apologist would not. “You’ll have to ask Russia whether they tried to,” responded Epshteyn. “How would I know?”
After trying several times to coax an actual answer out of Epshteyn, Maher grew impatient. “See Boris? This is why we’re having a problem,” said Maher. “Because I can’t even get you to come to the place that all people—including the Republicans—agree is the fact: that Russia did meddle in our election.”
“Well, that’s not quite agreed as fact,” offered Epshteyn.
The comedian’s head—and that of audience members tuning in at home—nearly exploded.