High-ranking Democrats Friday called on the FBI to conduct a criminal and counterintelligence investigation into a Florida spa owner whose consultancy firm advertised access to President Donald Trump and his inner circle at the president's Mar-a-Lago country club.
The Democrats said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and other high-ranking officials that recent news reports about Li "Cindy" Yang's consulting firm, which offered clients opportunities to interact with Trump raised "serious counterintelligence concerns" if true -- as did allegations of sex trafficking at massage parlors founded but no longer owned by Yang.
"...[A]lthough Ms. Yang's activities may only be those of an unscrupulous actor allegedly selling access to politicians for profit, her activities also could permit adversary governments or their agents access to these same politicians to acquire potential material for blackmail or other even more nefarious purposes," according to the letter, which was signed by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
The letter requests that the FBI "conduct criminal and counterintelligence investigations into credible allegations of potential human trafficking, as well as unlawful foreign lobbying, campaign finance and other activities by Ms. Yang." The letter also requests answers to a number of questions about law enforcement's knowledge of Yang prior to the media reporting and about Yang's interactions with Trump and others in the administration.
The letter came after an attorney for Yang, Michelle Merson, told ABC News that her client was wrongly accused -- though the legal team then hadn't had a chance to look into the allegations related to the consulting firm.
"Mrs. Yang loves this country," Merson said last week. "She has lived a very quiet life, doing good things for herself, her family and her community."
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."
Another attorney for Yang later released a statement calling the allegations about Yang "abhorrent."
"At this time, the evidence indicates that our client has been falsely accused in a manner that she may never recover from," attorney Evan Turk said on March 14. "Her name, her reputation and her honor have been destroyed. Cindy Yang seems to be another casualty, as a supporter of our president."
Yang came to national prominence in the wake of a Miami Herald report that said she was the previous owner of a massage parlor where New England Patriots owner and longtime Trump friend Robert Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution. Kraft has pleaded not guilty, and Yang's attorneys stress that Yang sold that particular massage parlor six years prior to Kraft's arrest.
Yang's story took on a different dimension when she was later identified by Mother Jones as having founded a consulting firm called GY US Investments LLC targeting Chinese businesspeople and advertising among its services access to Trump, his family and administration officials at Mar-a-Lago.
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.
Authorities have not accused Yang of any wrongdoing, and Merson told ABC News last week that she had not been in contact with law enforcement. Merson said Yang would cooperate with an investigation if it would help "clear her name."
In their letter, the Democrats request answers to their questions by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Editor's note: This report has been updated to clarify that the letter from Democrats was sent on Friday.
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