Spa owner whose consulting firm marketed access to President Trump is living a ‘nightmare’: Lawyer
Li “Cindy” Yang is lying low after ex-business linked to salacious allegations.
An attorney for a Florida massage parlor owner whose consulting firm marketed political access to President Donald Trump told ABC News her client has led an innocent life and is not the “threat” that she’s made out to be. The comments come as a top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee this week sought more details about the influence peddling allegations.
Li "Cindy" Yang, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, owns a number of nail and massage parlors in Florida, according to business records, and she was the previous owner of a parlor where police said New England Patriots’ owner and longtime Trump friend Robert Kraft, solicited prostitution. Yang had sold that parlor years ago, and Kraft has pleaded not guilty.
But her story took on a different dimension when she was later identified in media reports as having founded an international consulting firm called GY US Investments LLC targeting Chinese businesspeople which advertised among its services access to Trump, his family members and administration officials at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club, sparking the interest of congressional investigators.
Her attorney, Michelle Merson, said her client is now living through a “nightmare” after she was perceived as linked to the alleged prostitution or as a national security “threat” because of the questions of political access peddling – which, Merson said, is “far from the truth.”
“Mrs. Yang loves this country,” Merson said. “She has lived a very quiet life, doing good things for herself, her family and her community.”
Authorities have not accused Yang of any wrongdoing, and Merson told ABC News she was unaware of any contact between authorities and Yang. Merson said Yang would cooperate with investigators if necessary to help “clear her name.”
The mostly Chinese-language website for the consulting firm has been taken down, but an archived version reviewed by ABC News shows the company offered to secure dinners and access to events where Trump and Trump associates were present, according to a translation of the Chinese text.
It is unclear how much, if at all, Yang’s business was able to deliver for its clients, or if it ever got off the ground. According to Mother Jones, which first reported on the website, photos showed Chinese executives and a Chinese movie star posing with people close to the president, including his son Don. Jr. The photos have since been taken down and are no longer available on the archived version reviewed by ABC News.
Merson said she could not comment on the contents of the GY US Investments LLC website because she and her legal team had yet to review it.
The extent of Yang’s relationship with Trump and his associates is unclear. Federal records show Yang and her family have contributed over $40,000 to pro-Trump and pro-Republican organizations since 2017, and photos from her Facebook page, now disabled, show her at various political events, including at Mar-a-Lago, posing with Trump, his sons, and other prominent Republicans.
But Merson said Yang was not a friend of the president and had only taken photos with him like many other Mar-a-Lago attendees.
The Trump Organization declined to comment on whether Yang was a member of the club or attended events as a guest. Her attorney said Yang attended events at the club with a friend who was a longtime member, and entered as a registered guest.
Cliff Li, executive director of the National Committee of Asian Americans Republicans, told ABC News that Yang worked for the organization since 2015, first as a local fundraiser, and then in community outreach. He described Yang, who he said is no longer with the organization, as a “political novice” who got caught up in the excitement around Trump.
“I can see that she got fascinated, because she resonated with the president because [of his] media personality,” Li said.
Li said he was unaware of Yang’s consulting business, but said he was highly doubtful that she was connected to the Chinese government -- as Merson said had been insinuated -- or other nefarious activity.
“I think it’s far-fetched, probably a misunderstanding somewhere,” he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said this week that whenever there are “credible allegations of corruption or allegations that they’re selling influence out of massage parlors in Florida, those issues ought to be looked into.”
But like Li, Merson suggested Yang, at least, is the victim of a misunderstanding. Yang sold the massage parlor in question six years ago, and Merson strenuously denied that any wrongdoing had taken place at Yang’s businesses.
“This is a woman who led a very quiet, innocent life,” Merson said. “[She is a] good person, who came to this country to live the American dream.”
Nery Ynclan is a freelance producer based in Florida. ABC News’ Meridith McGraw, Ben Siegel and Soo Rin Kim contributed to this report.