On Friday, The Herald reported that Yang attended a Super Bowl party at Trump’s West Palm Beach country club, where the president was cheering on Kraft’s team. It turns out that Yang was something of a regular in MAGA-land, posing for selfies with Trump, his adult sons, Kellyanne Conway and others. According to The Herald, she and her relatives donated $42,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign. Last February, she was invited to the White House for an event put on by Trump’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander Initiative, an advisory commission.
Now, there’s nothing new about donors paying for photo ops. But Yang was more than just a hanger-on. Both Mother Jones and The Herald found evidence that Yang, who emigrated from China, ran a business, GY US Investments, selling Chinese executives access to Trump, his family and Republican officials. According to Mother Jones, she claimed to have gotten her clients into the most recent New Year’s Eve party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The Herald reported that Yang arranged for a group of Chinese businessmen to attend a Trump fund-raising event in 2017 in Manhattan at which tickets, which foreigners can’t legally pay for, started at $2,700. Her Chinese-language website, which appears to have been taken down, said she was hosting a conference at Mar-a-Lago later this month; Trump’s sister was listed as the guest speaker.
News that the owner of a chain of dubious massage parlors was brokering foreign access to the president of the United States should be a big deal. It has the potential to be a sex scandal, an intelligence scandal and a financial scandal all at once.
“There are profound national security implications to this kind of relationship,” Jeffrey Prescott, a senior director on the National Security Council under Barack Obama, told me. “It goes to the obvious opportunities that foreign governments and interests are going to see to have influence over this president because of the way that he’s arranged his business practices.”
Mother Jones has reported that Yang is an officer in local branches of two groups tied to the Chinese government: the Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China and the Chinese Association of Science and Technology. It’s hard to know what to make of these connections. Chris Lu, a former deputy secretary of labor who was a co-chairman of the White House Asian-Americans initiative during the Obama administration, cautions against casually imputing dual loyalty to Yang or anyone else.