A company run by a donor to Donald Trump claimed it could provide Chinese clients with a chance to mingle and take photos with the president, along with access to his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump in Super Bowl selfie with founder of spa in prostitution case
It remains unclear how much Li Yang charged for the services and whether she was ever hired to provide them.
But the company’s claims and other eyebrow-raising activity, first reported by the Miami Herald and Mother Jones, mark the latest in a litany of complications and ethical issues stemming from Trump continuing to own and operate a private club where dues-paying members and their guests rub shoulders with the president and his family, friends, White House staff and members of his cabinet.
The AP has previously reported that aides who accompany the president on trips to the club are always alert for club members and guests who like to buttonhole the president. They raise pet projects, make policy suggestions and share oddball ideas ranging from the benefits of nuclear-powered cars to personal plans for peace in the Middle East.
Former administration officials have described the lengths to which aides have gone to try to run interference, including reserving the dinner table next to Trump’s to keep as close an eye on him as possible and scanning guest lists for visitors who might prove problematic.
Yang appears to be a relative newcomer to Palm Beach’s political scene. GY US Investments LLC, a company she registered in 2017, according to Florida state documents, describes itself on a now-defunct, mostly Chinese website as an international business consulting firm.
The firm “provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace”, according to a translation of the page accessed through an internet archive service.
That has included, the website claims, access to presidential dinners and roundtables, White House events, photo opportunities and “VIP” activities including the “opportunity to interact with the president, the minister of commerce and other political figures”.
The site also featured numerous photographs, including a picture of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and photographs of Yang with Trump, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, transportation secretary Elaine Chao and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.
Yang is described on the website as the company’s “founder CEO”, as well as a member of a “presidential fundraising committee” and a “presidential club member”.
Yang and the company did not respond to messages seeking comment, nor did the Trump Organization, Mar-a-Lago club or the Republican National Committee.
Christian Ziegler, vice-chairman of the Republican party of Florida, played down the significance of the webpage and photos Yang has posted of herself with the president and other prominent Republican politicians.
“Anyone can buy tickets to any event and I’m assuming that is what she had done,” Ziegler said. “I’ve never met the lady and I could never pick her out of a police lineup.”
He added: “I know the media, Democrats, the left is going to try to do everything to connect her with us, but she had zero role with us. It just looks like she attended some events and took some pictures.”
In China, however, pictures can be an end unto themselves, giving an appearance of influence. Pictures with famous people are especially valued in the country, where personal relationships and connections carry special weight in business and politics.
Mother Jones on Saturday offered details on Yang’s efforts to provide Chinese clients access to Trump and his circle.
The Miami Herald on Friday published a photo of Yang with Trump at a Super Bowl party at his West Palm Beach country club and reported on the link between Yang and the spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a friend of Trump, was charged with soliciting prostitution. Yang was a former owner of the spa.
Yang wasn’t charged in a multiagency anti-human trafficking operation that resulted in 25 arrests, including that of Kraft, and shut down 10 Asian day spas in South Florida last month. None of the spas is registered to Yang or her family. She sold the Jupiter spa to Hua Zhang around 2013. Zhang was charged with racketeering and running a house of prostitution and has pleaded not guilty.
Yang’s family still owns several South Florida spas.
Wow. The alleged owner of a prostitution ring and possible sex slave ring tried to sell access to Trump. Such lovely friends he has.
I always suspected that, like much of the bullshit the Reich-wing spews about its opponents, Pizzagate (the conspiracy theory that the Clintons ran a child sex ring out of a Washington DC pizza restaurant, which directly inspired at least one act of domestic terrorism) had more than a small amount of projection to it. I've quipped on occasion (half-joking, half-serious) that it was probably only a matter of time until the Trump regime got caught running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor. Well, we're not quite there yet, but this is bad enough.
I would also not be shocked at all to find out that Trump availed himself of the services of a sex slave ring, given the numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him, his blatant misogyny and sociopathic disregard for the rights of others, and his known friendship and association with notorious sexual predator Epstein (known both for his parties full of underage girls, and his friendships with both Trump and Bill Clinton, among others).