Screenshot: Facebook

During the Super Bowl, an otherwise incredibly boring event, Donald Trump was photographed at Mar-a-lago with Li Yang, who goes by Cindy. She is the Florida businesswoman who founded the massage parlor where Trump’s friend, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, was charged with soliciting prostitution late last month.

According to a Miami Herald investigation published Friday, Yang was at Trump’s annual Super Bowl watch party at Mar-a-Lago, where she snapped a selfie with the president and posted it on her Facebook page.

Screenshot: Facebook

According to the Herald, Yang is not an uncommon presence in Trump’s orbit. Yang founded the chain of spas where law enforcement snagged Kraft, but sold the specific location years ago. (Yang has not been charged in the FBI’s human trafficking investigation, and the White House did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.)

It does, however, paint a picture of a Florida business person who’s been swept up in the vortex of Trump’s new political elite, tied to places like Mar-a-Lago. From the Herald (emphasis mine):

In a brief phone interview, Yang said she and her family have never broken the law, but did not answer questions about whether she knew of the allegations that therapists in her spas were offering sex. She added that she was out of the business, would soon be moving to Washington, D.C., and didn’t want any negative press.

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.

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Per the Herald, despite the change in ownership, not a whole lot has changed at the Tokyo Day Spa, where Kraft was arrested, since Yang sold it:

Online reviews from prior to 2013 suggest sex was for sale at the Tokyo Day Spa Jupiter location even before it became Orchids of Asia. Although the name and ownership of the location have changed, the decor has not. A photo from a Tokyo Day Spa Yelp review shows the same couch, the same wall hanging and the same faux plant as now.

“Used to be known as Tokyo Day Spa and Massage — most of the same girls still work there,” a Yelp reviewer wrote of Orchids of Asia in 2013.

Over the past decade, Yang and her family members have opened at least six locations across Palm Beach and Broward counties, including a massage school established in 2011 and several nail salons. In at least three cases, online classifieds written in Chinese indicate Yang opened the spas and then flipped them, advertising sale prices ranging from $55,000 to $88,000.

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The Herald investigation goes much deeper, using law enforcement sources to detail how human trafficking can become entrenched in strip-mall massage chains like the one Yang founded, without, of course, making any specific allegations of impropriety on the part of Yang or Trump. But it just goes to show... maybe the real Super Bowl was the friends we made along the way.