The former owner of a Florida spa chain embroiled in a massive human trafficking investigation rejected claims that she had sold access to President Donald Trump, saying she felt unfairly targeted because she is a Chinese Republican.
Cindy Yang, a GOP donor and the former owner of a chain of spas in Florida, told NBC News that she felt her political affiliation and status as an immigrant made her a prime target and that nobody else had been subjected to such scrutiny.
“I’m, you know, a Chinese Republican,” she said in the interview, which aired Wednesday. “That’s the issue.”
Yang first drew media attention last month after her former business, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, was accused of being at the center of a prostitution and sex trafficking ring. Dozens of men were arrested for solicitation, including billionaire New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and hundreds of others were charged. She has denied any illegality.
Yang, a naturalized U.S. citizen, sold the business seven years ago, but she found herself in the middle of the scandal after the Miami Herald noted her prior ownership and that she also happened to be at a Super Bowl party with the president just weeks before the raid. The Herald published a selfie she took with Trump at his country club in West Palm Beach.
Just days later, Mother Jones reported that Yang owned a business with her husband called GY US Investments LLC that offered paying clients the “opportunity to interact with the president” and other “political figures.” A website for the company, which has since been removed, also showed a photo of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with a line saying it had previously “arranged taking photos” with the president himself.
Several senior Democrats on congressional intelligence and judiciary committees sent a letter to the FBI and Secret Service on Friday requesting information about Yang, saying they were troubled by the reports. The group, which included Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), asked the agencies to investigate her relationship with the president and said the business could have allowed foreign governments “to acquire potential material for blackmail or other even more nefarious purposes.”
“If true, these allegations raise serious counterintelligence concerns,” the letter said. “China has frequently used non-traditional intelligence collectors and businesspersons to compromise targets.”
Yang roundly rejected the claims during the interviews, telling NBC that she was an American citizen and alluding she had no allegiance to China.
“I’m American citizen. I’m not a Chinese citizen,” she said. “I love Americans. I love our president. I don’t do anything wrong.”
She later told ABC News she was “scared” and felt that Democrats were peddling “fake news” simply because she had posed for a picture with Trump.