Live

Watch CBSN Live

Democrats ask FBI for criminal, counterintelligence investigations into Li "Cindy" Yang

The four top Democrats from the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees have called on the FBI to open both criminal and counterintelligence investigations into Li "Cindy" Yang, the founder of a chain of massage parlors in Florida. Yang also reportedly ran a business that claimed to sell access to President Trump and his associates.

The Miami Herald and Mother Jones magazine have both reported that Yang created a business called "GY US Investments" whose website, since taken down, offered clients "the opportunity to interact with the President, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures." The company said it could arrange photo ops with the president and arrange "White House and Capitol Hill" dinners.

"If true, these allegations raise serious counterintelligence concerns," the lawmakers wrote in a letter, obtained by CBS News, that was sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Director of the U.S. Secret Service Randolph Alles last Friday. "China has frequently used non-traditional intelligence collectors and businesspersons to compromise targets."

At the annual Worldwide Threats hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January, Wray called the counterintelligence threat from China "more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counterintelligence threat that I can think of."

Yang was previously the owner of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, a massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida, where Patriots owner Bob Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution and which was one of several parlors suspected of involvement in human trafficking. Kraft has denied the allegation, and Yang was not charged or implicated in that matter. She denied breaking the law in an interview with the Herald.

In their letter, the lawmakers asked the FBI to "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."

"[A]lthough Ms. Yang's activities may only be those of an unscrupulous actor allegedly selling access to politicians for profit," the lawmakers wrote, "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."

They also asked whether any law enforcement or intelligence community officials were "aware" of Yang's activities prior to public press reports, and requested that the FBI provide "an assessment of any counterintelligence risks or related concerns associated with any interactions between President Donald Trump and Ms. Yang" by Thursday, March 21.

The letter was signed by Sens. Mark Warner and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees, respectively, as well as Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, the two chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.