Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office...is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move.

The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason...

(New York Times 3/25/17)

Is Epshteyn’s departure directly linked to Trump’s exploding Russia scandal?

Consider the following.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) often recruits Western businessmen by obtaining compromising material (“kompromat”) during tours and junkets to Russia.  Russian intelligence has used this iconic recruitment technique for over fifty years.

Epshteyn worked with the Russian government in 2013 to promote investment in Russia to the American business community.  His actions fit tightly with the FSB model described above.

The Russia-born investment banker and attorney moderated a panel at an October 2013 conference in New York City called “Invest in Moscow!” The panel was mainly comprised of Moscow city government officials, like Sergey Cheremin, a city minister who heads Moscow’s foreign economic and international relations department.  Huffington Post 8/12/16

There are unsubstantiated rumors that Epshteyn is Source E in the Steele dossier and that he entrapped Trump in the Pee Pee tape blackmail.

...page two of the Dossier (link) asserts that Source E “provided an introduction” at a Moscow hotel which appears to have led to the Russian prostitutes ending up in Donald Trump’s room.

Two months ago Joseph Cannon published a blog post in which he claimed that “An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump’s inauguration.” Cannon went on to make a lengthy case as to why his source’s claim fit with the publicly available evidence...  Palmer Report 3/25/17

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Epshteyn consistently defended Putin and parroted Russian propaganda on Ukraine:

“Again, Russia did not seize Crimea,” Epshteyn said in an appearance on CNN on July 31. “We could talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea, it’s an ongoing conflict, but there was no seizure by Russia. That is an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.”  Huffington Post 8/12/16

Epshteyn has other financial ties to the former Soviet Union, including consulting for “entities doing business in Eastern Europe”:

Epshteyn’s LinkedIn [profile] says he provides “Consulting And Liaising Services For For [sic] Domestic And International Transactions With A Focus On Eastern Europe An [sic] Former Soviet Union.”  Eric Hananoki at Media Matters

Epshteyn ‘s LinkedIn profile includes other shady activity.  He claims to have been  Managing Director of Business and Legal Affairs at West America Securities Corp. from 2009-2013.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority expelled West America in 2013; the firm’s CEO was barred for fraud.

My best guess is that Epshteyn is up to his eyeballs in the Russian affair.  His abrupt departure from the White House yesterday suggests several possibilities:

  1. An attempt to skip town one step ahead of the law, as he apparently did in 2013.
  2. A ploy to distance the Trump White House from Epshteyn before his cover is blown (a la Michael Flynn).
  3. Epshteyn may be providing evidence to the FBI.