Trump Advisor Boris Epshteyn Was Accused Of Inappropriately Touching 2 Women At An Arizona Club In 2021: ‘That Tony Soprano Looking Dude’

Boris Epshteyn, a Trump advisor, was accused of groping and harrassing two women at a club in 2021.One woman said he had a “fat, ugly, like drooping face” and resembled a “fatter Tony Soprano.” Charges of “assault touching,” “attempted sexual abuse,” “harassment-repeated acts” were later dismissed.

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Boris Epshteyn, an advisor to former President Donald Trump, was accused of groping two women at a nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2021. He later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

The allegations and his subsequent arrest were reported on Thursday by the Arizona Republic. Police body camera footage obtained by the outlet shows a 27-year-old woman talking to an officer about a man later identified as Epshteyn.

“All night he’s been touching me and my sister, especially my sister. He kind of cornered her and grabbed her and is just making her super uncomfortable,” said the woman, saying Epshteyn’s conduct toward her sister included “touching her chest, touching her hips, touching her crotch.”

She also described Epshteyn as “that Tony Soprano looking dude,” referring to the main protagonist portrayed by James Gandolfini in the hit TV show “The Sopranos.”

“Fat, ugly, like drooping face. White Ralph Lauren Polo,” the older sister told police, according to the Republic. “Like fatter Tony Soprano.”

Epshteyn was charged at the time with “assault touching,” “attempted sexual abuse,” “harassment-repeated acts” and “disorderly conduct-disruptive behavior or fighting,” according to the Republic, though the first three charges were later dismissed.

Epshteyn didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. He declined to comment when reached by the Republic.

A Republican political consultant, Epshteyn briefly worked in the White House under Trump, later serving as a strategic advisor for his 2020 re-election campaign.

After Trump lost the election, Epshteyn played a role in the plot to send slates of fake, pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College. The New York Times has identified him as the person most likely to be the 6th unnamed co-conspirator named in the recent federal indictment against Trump.

Trump Cheers The Defeat Of Rapinoe And The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team

When the United States lost to Sweden in the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, many American viewers saw it as a painful collapse on the grandest stage — the sort of agonizing moment that happens in sports.

For former President Donald J. Trump, it was a sign of national decline.

The loss was “fully emblematic of what is happening to the our once great Nation under Crooked Joe Biden,” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform.

“Many of our players were openly hostile to America — No other country behaved in such a manner, or even close,” he added. “WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!! MAGA.”

The taunt was an extension of a longstanding feud between Mr. Trump and Megan Rapinoe, the retiring soccer star who once refused to visit the Trump White House, and whose missed penalty kick contributed to the team’s loss. (After the game, Ms. Rapinoe summed up the miss as a sort of “sick joke.”)

But it was also a striking example of the unforgiving moment in right-wing politics, when a former president will taunt an American team competing on the international stage and relish the agony of its defeat.

President Biden congratulated the team on Twitter: “I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue to inspire Americans with your grit and determination — on and off the field.”

“Your unwavering support means a lot to us,” the team said to its fans on Sunday. “Our goal remains the same, to win.”

Criticism of the team was common in the online right-wing ecosystem even before its loss.

Megyn Kelly, the podcast host, said that Ms. Rapinoe had “poisoned the entire team against the country for which they play” ahead of the game.

The right-wing activist Brigitte Gabriel wrote late last month, “I love America and that’s why I am rooting against the woke U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team this year.”

Richard Lapchick, the president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice, drew a parallel between Mr. Trump’s attack on Ms. Rapinoe and his attacks in 2017 on N.F.L. Players who, inspired by Colin Kaepernick, knelt for the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

After Mr. Trump’s criticism six years ago, “what was seemingly a dimming protest movement in the N.F.L. Was suddenly reignited so that they had even owners and coaches” expressing support, Dr. Lapchick said.

“I think that his doing this again this week will reinforce the base of athlete activism that I think has grown significantly stronger in the last couple of years,” he said.

The conservative criticism has been focused on both Ms. Rapinoe’s political statements — including her support of gay and transgender rights, which Mr. Trump has attacked — and the women’s national team’s fight for pay equity. Mr. Trump and others disparage these stances as “woke,” the right’s catchall shorthand for progressive views on gender, race and other issues.

A recent article in The Washington Examiner, a conservative publication, accused the women’s national soccer team of appearing “far more concerned pushing a woke agenda regarding equal pay for female athletes and the rights of L.G.B.T. Citizens than they have been with winning games.”

Ms. Rapinoe has been a target of the right since at least 2019, when she refused to visit the White House after the United States won the last Women’s World Cup. Mr. Trump criticized her at the time. She has long been outspoken, and she is among the athletes who have knelt for the national anthem.

While “anti-woke” attacks have reliably stirred the right-wing base, a recent New York Times/Siena College poll indicates that they don’t reflect most voters’ priorities.

A minority of the presidential candidates, including former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and former Representative Will Hurd of Texas, have urged Republicans to focus on concrete matters like inflation.

Then again, so has Mr. Trump — to a point.

“I don’t like the term ‘woke,’” he said in Iowa in June, adding, “It’s just a term they use — half the people can’t even define it, they don’t know what it is.”

Mary Jo Kane, a professor emerita and founder of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, suggested that the mere existence of Mr. Trump’s latest attack was “a reflection of the growth and the power and the significance of a cultural moment of women’s sports.”

“The fact that the former president of the United States is commenting on women’s sports — nobody used to comment on women’s sports,” she said. “The fact that this has become yet another arena that is culturally contested and commented on is, ironically and unwittingly, a demonstration of the role of women’s sports in our society.”

Kamala Harris Takes On A Forceful New Role In The 2024 Campaign

In recent weeks, Vice President Kamala Harris has dashed off to Florida on short notice. She sparred with the state’s conservative governor, Ron DeSantis, over how to teach slavery in schools. And she flew into Iowa to defend abortion rights while 13 Republican presidential candidates were having dinner a few miles away.

Although her words were directed at Republicans, her message was also aimed at all her doubters.

Once a rising star as a senator in California, Ms. Harris has for years been saddled by criticism of her performance as vice president. She has struggled with difficult assignments on issues such as the roots of illegal migration and the narrow path to enduring voting rights protections. Concerns about her future spread as Democrats pondered whether she would be a political liability for the ticket.

Ms. Harris’s recent moves are her latest attempt to silence those concerns and reclaim the momentum that propelled her to Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s side as a candidate and into the White House in 2020.

“It’s good to have her out there,” said Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser for the Democratic National Committee, who added that the vice president’s decision to take on the Republican Party — assertively and in real time — was central to the campaign’s 2024 strategy.

It also keeps President Biden above the fray.

“He is still uniting the West against Russian aggression, and he’s tackling the economy and inflation,” Mr. Richmond said. “She can go highlight the accomplishments, and she can take on people like DeSantis.”

In interviews, aides and advisers acknowledge that Ms. Harris has been affected by the years of criticism. She has often approached events defensively, focusing on not making mistakes, rather than looking for opportunities to attack.

But now, galvanized by what she has described as rising extremism in the Republican Party, Ms. Harris is expanding her profile.

The tussle with Mr. DeSantis, who is struggling to break through as he campaigns to be the Republican presidential nominee, provides a glimpse into Ms. Harris’s role as something of a one-woman rapid-response operation.

When Florida last month approved an overhaul to its standards for teaching Black history, which now say middle schoolers should be taught that enslaved people developed skills that could be of personal benefit, Ms. Harris directed her staff to get her down immediately to Jacksonville, a White House official said.

She was on the ground within 24 hours, speaking to a packed audience in a historically Black neighborhood, about “extremist so-called leaders” who want to sanitize history.

“How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Ms. Harris said, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.

Her appearance caught the eye of Mr. DeSantis.

“You clearly have no trouble ducking down to Florida on short notice,” he said in an open letter last week, accusing her of trying to score political points and inviting her to discuss the new standards.

Ms. Harris, who returned to Florida for her second trip in less than two weeks, had a swift reply.

“Well, I’m here in Florida,” she said before pausing as the crowd at an African Methodist Episcopal Church event in Orlando erupted in applause. “And I will tell you, there is no round table, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”

The vice president’s press secretary, Kirsten Allen, said Ms. Harris would “continue to call out extremist leaders as they attempt to pull our country backward with book bans, revisionist history and barriers that make it harder for Americans to participate in our democracy.”

Despite her more public role, Ms. Harris’s approval ratings have remained stubbornly low. About 52 percent of Americans have a negative view of her, while 40 percent have a positive view, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll tracker. Mr. Biden has also had trouble with persistently low approval ratings.

But Ms. Harris connects to sections of the electorate that are not always a natural fit for Mr. Biden, including women, minority groups and younger voters. At 58, Ms. Harris is decades younger than the 80-year-old president, who would be 86 at the end of a second term.

As Ms. Harris fans out across the country, some of her longtime allies said she was showing the kind of swagger they remembered from much earlier in her career, dating back to her days as district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.

“Seeing her in this role, understanding she has a president who she reports to, it’s kind of funny to me,” said Lateefah Simon, who was hired by Ms. Harris in 2005 to lead a new program aimed at keeping first-time drug offenders out of jail.

She recalled a confident Ms. Harris walking through the office when she won re-election for district attorney in 2007, reminding each staffer that she would be the boss for another four years. Ms. Simon believes Ms. Harris is making an impact as vice president but wonders how she is adjusting to being second in command.

“I’m like, ‘Kamala with a boss?’” she said.

Ms. Harris often draws on her legal background on the campaign trail as a way to emphasize her expertise — a strategy that serves as a counterweight to Republican claims that she is incompetent.

At a recent speech on gun reform, she said she had studied autopsy photographs and had “seen with my own eyes what a bullet does to the human body.”

And in July, when she made a trip to Iowa for a discussion on reproductive rights, she said that she had investigated sex crimes, so she understood that denying a woman an abortion was an “immoral” approach to survivors of rape or incest.

The timing of the trip to Iowa was no accident: As she spoke at Drake University, saying opponents of abortion in state legislatures around the country “don’t even know how women’s bodies work,” former President Donald J. Trump and a dozen of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination were in Des Moines for a G.O.P. Dinner.

Her appearance came just two weeks after the state’s Republican governor signed a strict new abortion ban into law, making it illegal to have the procedure past six weeks of pregnancy. (A judge has put the ban on hold.)

Ms. Harris’s decision to go on the offensive is a notable shift.

For all of her boundary-breaking as the first woman, the first African American and the first Asian American to serve as vice president, she has long been known for pragmatism and, to her critics, for a defense of the status quo.

She has described herself in the past as a “pragmatic prosecutor” who owns a gun for personal safety and also believes in criminal justice reform. As vice president, she has had to appeal to broad constituencies; being seen as a moderate is a benefit at a time when conservative critics have tried to portray her as radical and out of step with the nation.

But now, with the campaign in full swing, the White House is giving Ms. Harris room to make more assertive moves against Republican opponents.

She also has been freed up to travel more, something that has been in the works since the midterm elections when Democrats held off a widely expected red wave.

Because the Senate was split evenly for the first two years of the Biden administration, Ms. Harris could never be more than 24 hours away from the Capitol when the Senate was in session in case her tiebreaking vote was needed.

With Democrats now holding a 51-to-49 edge, at least in cases when Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona independent, votes with them, Ms. Harris has more flexibility to move. Some are hoping she continues to seize on the opportunity.

Stefanie Brown James, a co-founder of the Collective PAC, an organization that helps elect Black officials, has urged Ms. Harris’s staff to have her out in front on affirmative action and abortion issues, in particular. She said for the past two and a half years, Ms. Harris was “a little too much in the background and not seen enough or heard enough.”

“She definitely is having a moment,” Ms. James said. But she added a note of caution, saying she hoped it would be “a sustainable moment.”

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