Lazy Caturday Reads: The Latest News, Accompanied By Library CatsPosted: March 9, 2019 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Asian day spas, Bill Shine, corruption, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Erik Prince, GY US Investments, human trafficking, iran, Li Yang, Mar-a-Lago, Saudi Arabia, Sean Hannity, sex trafficking, Tokyo Day Spas, United Arab Emirates 42 Comments
Yesterday I called Dakinikat early in the morning to tell her about a long investigative piece at The Miami Herald: Trump cheered Patriots to Super Bowl victory with founder of spa where Kraft was busted. She posted a brief excerpt from it in her Friday post. It was just one more example of the corruption Trumph has enabled since becoming “president,” right? Well it looks like there’s a lot more to this story and it could blow up into a huge scandal.
Yesterday multiple photos of prominent Republicans posing with Li “Cindy” Yang, the subject of the Miami Herald story, were posted on Twitter.
Yang founded a chain of “Asian day spas” in Florida, including Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which was recently busted for sex trafficking. Yang is no longer the owner of Orchids, but she and her family members still own numerous such “massage parlors” called Tokyo Day Spas, which are known for providing “sexual services.”
From the Miami Herald story linked above:
Before the 2016 general election, Yang offered no evidence of political engagement. She hadn’t voted in 10 years, records showed. But she has now become a fixture at Republican political events up and down the East Coast. Her Facebook is covered in photos of herself standing with President Trump, his two sons, Eric and Donald Jr., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott, Sarah Palin, the president’s campaign manager and an assortment of other high-level Republican operators she has met at charity events, political fundraisers and galas, many of which require hefty donations to attend. She sometimes carries a rhinestone encrusted MAGA clutch purse.
Yang has shown considerable political largesse. Since 2017, she and her close relatives have contributed more than $42,000 to Trump Victory, a political action committee, and more than $16,000 to the president’s campaign.
In February 2018, Yang was invited by the White House to participate in an event hosted by the Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative, an advisory commission Trump established by executive order the year before. Later in the year, she attended at least two more AAPI events in Washington, D.C., according to her Facebook page.
The article says that Yang is planning to get out of the day spa business and plans to move to Washington, DC. More on Yang from the Herald piece:
When Donald Trump became a serious candidate for president, politics began to dominate her social media presence.
In January 2017, she was in the crowd at Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. Later that year, she snapped a photo with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. In December, she attended her first elite event at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, a poolside steak lunch.
In September 2018, Yang received a personalized note from the president and first lady. It read: “Thank you for your friendship and dedication to our cause. Leaders like you in Florida are the key to fulfilling our bold agenda to Make America Great Again!” [….]
Over the past two years, Yang has racked up a who’s who of photos with politicians at more than a dozen political events. She has enough pictures of the president’s private clubs to fill an album.
In 2018, she attended a Safari Night at Mar-a-Lago hosted by the president’s sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, as well as the White House’s celebration of the Lunar New Year at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. She took photos with Florida’s soon-to-be-governor, Ron DeSantis, at a pro-Israel gala held at Mar-a-Lago, met U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in Washington, D.C., and posed with Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz and former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. She also posted a photograph of herself with DeSantis at a restaurant, saying she was having “brunch this morning with Florida’s next Governor.”
She was photographed with Donald Trump Jr. at a winter Mar-a-Lago gala for Turning Points USA, the conservative college organization, and met Eric Trump last month.
Yang claims she doesn’t know Trump personally and is just a volunteer at campaign events. But it turns out there’s a lot more to this story. David Corn at Mother Jones this morning: A Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
…there is another angle to the strange story of Yang: She runs an investment business that has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. And a website for the business—which includes numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach—suggests she had some success in doing so.
Yang, who goes by Cindy, and her husband, Zubin Gong, started GY US Investments LLC in 2017. The company describes itself on its website, which is mostly in Chinese, as an “international business consulting firm that provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace.” But the firm notes that its services also address clients looking to make high-level connections in the United States. On a page displaying a photo of Mar-a-Lago, Yang’s company says its “activities for clients” have included providing them “the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures.” The company boasts it has “arranged taking photos with the President” and suggests it can set up a “White House and Capitol Hill Dinner.” (The same day the Herald story about Yang broke, the website stopped functioning.) [….]
The GY US Investments website lists upcoming events at Mar-a-Lago at which Yang’s clients presumably can mingle with Trump or members of his family. This includes something called the International Leaders Elite Forum, where Trump’s sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, will supposedly be the featured speaker. Attendees, the site says, will include “Chinese elites from various countries, including the US states, as well as elite leaders from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, Europe and other countries and regions.” Another event for which Yang’s firm says it can provide access is Trump’s annual New Year’s celebration at Mar-a-Lago. Elsewhere on the website, the firm boasts that “GY Company arranged a number of guests to attend the 2019 New Year’s Eve dinner. All the guests took photos with” members of Trump’s family. This page displays photos of Chinese executives and a Chinese movie star with Donald Trump Jr., suggesting that these pics were arranged by the company, and also includes a photo of Yang with Elizabeth Trump Grau.
I wonder if Yang has anything to do with all those Chinese licensing agreements and trademarks Ivanka keeps getting? Honestly, there is no bottom to the Trump family’s corruption, and there are probably more grifters like Yang picking up the scraps.
In other news, Gabriel Sherman has background on why former Fox News exec Bill Shine is no longer in charge of the White House communications shop: “Trump has been calling him Bill “no shine”: Why Roger Ailes’s Former Right Hand is Leaving the West Wing.
“Bill was iced out,” a Republican close to the White House told me, echoing the view of multiple sources that the president had been souring on the former Fox News co-president for months. “Trump has been calling him Bill ‘No Shine,’” one source briefed on the conversations told me.
Trump’s decision to hire Shine last July completed the Fox-ification of the West Wing. Shine got the job after his close friend Sean Hannity lobbied Trump to name Shine chief of staff. “The relationship was always Hannity based,” a former West Wing official explained. “When Trump hired him it was like he thought, ‘I’m getting Hannity.’ I’m like, no you’re getting the guy who produced Hannity.” Trump put Shine in charge of the beleaguered White House press operation with a mandate to plug leaks and improve his image. Shine accomplished neither. In Shine’s defense, the brief was impossible given Trump’s destructive Twitter habits. “Trump needs someone to blame for his bad press,” another former West Wing official said.
Shine was in over his head from the beginning. As Roger Ailes’s right hand, he had virtually no direct contacts with reporters and no involvement in Fox’s P.R. department. “Bill’s not a strategist,” a former Fox executive told me. That lack of experience was evident last September when Shine was caught flat-footed during the rollout of Bob Woodward’s book Fear. “Trump started complaining to people there was no advance prep on Woodward’s book,” the Republican close to the White House said. “Trump let Shine know he wasn’t happy.”
Trump should just hire Hannity as chief of staff and be done with it.
Medhi Hasan of The Intercept did a hard-hitting interview with Erik Prince and got him to admit to attending a high-level meeting at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. (The New York Times reported on the meeting in May 2018). Here’s a summary of the story at HuffPost: Ex-Mercenary CEO Erik Prince Admits To Trump Tower Meet With Donald Jr. And Saudi Emissary.
Erik Prince, former head of mercenary business Blackwater, revealed in a bombshell interview Friday that he attended a meeting in Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and a representative of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to discuss “Iran policy” during the presidential campaign.
The interview marked the first time Prince has publicly acknowledged such a meeting. Prince said in congressional testimony in 2017 that he had no “official” or “unofficial” role in the campaign — other than a “yard sign” and writing “papers” — according to the transcript of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Nor did he mention the meeting in his testimony, according to transcripts.
The New York Times reported last year that Prince organized the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with President Donald Trump’s eldest son and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader. Nader revealed at the meeting that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia wanted to aid Trump in his bid for the presidency, according to the newspaper.
The meeting also reportedly included now-top White House aide Stephen Miller and Israeli social media expert Joel Zamel.
The August meeting is yet another secret huddle with a representative of foreign governments that may have provided illegal international aid to sway the American election.
More stories to check out, links only:
Buzzfeed News: Military Doctors Told Them It Was Just “Female Problems.” Weeks Later, They Were In The Hospital.
NBC News: Trump administration responsible for even more separated children, judge rules.
USA Today: Judge: Trump administration may have to reunite thousands of additional migrant families.
Anne Applebaum at The Washington Post: The more we learn about Brexit, the more crooked it looks.
The Washington Post: Trump budget to propose slashing domestic spending, boosting defense.
The Washington Post: A Trump official said seismic air gun tests don’t hurt whales. So a congressman blasted him with an air horn.
Bloomberg: Russian Trolls Shift Strategy to Disrupt U.S. Election in 2020.
The New York Times: Chelsea Manning Is Jailed for Refusing to Testify in WikiLeaks Case.
The New York Times: The Daintiest Slap on Paul Manafort’s Wrist.
The Los Angeles Times: How could anyone think Paul Manafort lived an ‘otherwise blameless’ life?
What stories are you following today?
Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!
That BuzzFeed article about military doctors infuriated me – honestly, I came away with the feeling that male doctors really have no interest in healing women’s bodies, only in telling them to shut up and go away,
A book has just come out called “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado-Perez which is about exactly this topic, and about a thousand other examples of ignoring women to the point of causing death. (Eg crash test dummies and ignoring heart attack symptoms.)
Another example: apparently years ago there was research indicating that Viagra was very useful for relieving extreme period pain. But nobody could be bothered to extend the original $60,000 grant to finish the research on such an unimportant topic, so for an extra twenty years or so women just get to use hot water bottles and lose time from work.
I haven’t read the article yet but just from first-hand experience I can tell you when you get older male doctors often openly show their disgust and treat you like disposable waste.
I recall reading a story years ago in which an older woman had a problem with intense itching in her pubic area and the male doctor dismissed it as a lack of “gratification”. No consideration of allergies, folliculitis – no it MUST be lack of sex. The story BTW was written as corroboration of the genius of his diagnosis.
Christ. Vaginal pruritis being a classic symptom of thinning of the mucous membranes that happens due to reduced estrogen around menopause. It’s one of the indications for going on hormone replacement therapy.
Makes me think of the marvelous old days of Car Talk and Tom saying we needed to give out dope slaps on a regular basis for obvious bogosity. As well as pulling this idiot’s medical license.
That article made me furious. It’s how male physicians have treated women’s health problems since they stole the livelihoods of midwives and wise women. Things have improved though still aren’t optimum. Not surprising that the military is behind the times. Some of those symptoms have a blindingly obvious diagnosis to me, and it’s not the one the military MD made.
The VA now has specialized women’s clinics, even with separate entrances (at least the one in my area does) so women who’ve suffered military sexual trauma aka rape and abuse don’t have to use the main entrance if they’d rather not.
As far as hormone therapy, there are topical forms (creams, vaginal tablets and rings) which have miniscule effects on the rest of the body, so they can be used even by women who’ve had hormone-positive breast cancer. Those women usually have the worst problems due to the meds they’ve been put on, which can have long-lasting side effects.
Trump and his minions are having a gay old time, doing whatever they please. When and how will we stop them, when there’s nothing left to save?
Is Trump really using a fake Melania when his wife doesn’t want to go somewhere?
Okay, I know this is the least important thing in the world, but it’s also the most giggleworthy, so I looked up Inez Knauss. No, she doesn’t look much like the Other Woman in the photos either.
One problem is that all these model-type women look the same. So a small difference in perspective, lighting, tiredness could create a different “look.”
But Melania always stands like a Valkyrie. This one looks more, “Jeezis, this is tiring.” As I say, maybe it’s just Melania feeling tired after a flight (especially with a Dump) but I don’t know. Something about her really does look like a different person.
Melania doesn’t have those jowls. She’s completely botoxed.
True, bb, but she is in her 50s and has come off a longish flight. So I don’t know if that level of difference can’t happen with less-flattering lighting and/or camera angles. (I really mean I don’t know. I’m the opposite of an expert in pro photography.) She sure does look not-like-Melania at all, though. Be a lot easier to tell without the mega-sunglasses, which of course imples the point that that’s why she’s wearing them.
Heels vs no heels could make the difference — we can’t see the footwear. Quixote’s right about camera angle and then if the ground is irregular and the people are a few feet apart that can make a difference.
I’m more concerned about their crimes than if Melania has a body double.
Apparently she’s wearing the same brand and make of jogging shoes in both, although lots of people have pointed out that the Dump could have put on his elevator shoes when getting off the flight. 😆
There is only one way to know. Ask Fucker McFuckface I mean the POTUS and whatever he say the opposite is true.
Ha! You’re right.
Ugh – really. This is the worst idea ever. It’s animal cruelty IMO.
Only if they make a T-rex and introduce it to Trump.
That really would be unethical to a poor lizard who was here through no fault of its own.
Would probably result in immediate emesis.
Great job, BB! Remember when Al Gore was heavily criticized for hobnobbing with Buddhists?
The Madame Cindy Yang scandal would destroy any other administration; but, clueless Alabamians line up for Trump’s scrawl-signature-on their bibles!
And he signed the covers of the bibles! As if he wrote them?
I’m surprised they didn’t burst into flames
Not to mention Gore and his silly obsession with the environment and climate change. Didn’t he know that’s the prerogative of the young novice Congresspeople a couple of decades later?
Good one, Luna.
When I read Ellis’ comment that he was surprised Manafort didn’t express remorse, I thought what he really means is “Paul, you didn’t stick to the script.”
To paraphrase the great Lily Tomlin: No matter how paranoid I become, it’s never enough to keep up.
Not these days is sure ain’t.
Argh, I meant not these days it sure ain’t.
There’s three possibilities. 1) He has dementia and can’t remember a thing. 2) You have to sign so many things as Acting-AG he can’t be expected to remember them all. 3) There were so many memos to investigate Clinton that this particular one he forgot.
Oh, and 4) He’s lying.
I’ll take #4 for a thousand.
I went to your link earlier and read this and was shocked. Isn’t this sort’ve actionable? Shouldn’t the new attorney general go after this?
BB, I adore the cats-in-library pictures! Cats and books go together.
long thread worth considering