Trump campaign advisor who allegedly saw classified map works for China lobbying firm: report

"Susie could put Trump away for years in just one minute of testimony to Jack Smith," GOP operative says

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published June 30, 2023 2:22PM (EDT)

Donald Trump (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

A top Donald Trump campaign aide, who sources told ABC News is one of the unauthorized people shown a classified document by the former president, also holds a top position at a lobbying firm that serves Chinese companies that could possibly pose a threat to national security and have aided in the nation's human rights abuses.

Susie Wiles, a campaign advisor for Trump's 2024 bid for the presidency, is co-chair of Mercury Public Affairs, which has, in recent years, received millions of dollars from Chinese companies, including Yealink, Hikvision and Alibaba, according to The New York Post. ABC News reported late Wednesday that Wiles, who has worked several Republican campaigns including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' 2018 gubernatorial run, was also singled out as one of the people to whom Trump revealed sensitive documents.

Wiles, according to the report, is the "representative of his political action committee" listed in special counsel Jack Smith's 37-count indictment filed earlier this month against Trump. According to the indictment, the representative visited Trump at his Bedminster golf club in August or September of 2021 and was improperly shown a classified map of an unidentified country.

Trump told the aide that "he should not be showing" the document to them and warned the person they "should not get too close," prosecutors wrote.

Wiles' rank in the Trump campaign and her firm's work for potentially hostile entities further complicates Trump's case, the Post added, while noting that "a search of the Justice Department's registry of foreign agents indicated Wiles had not worked directly for those clients."

"Susie could put Trump away for years in just one minute of testimony to Jack Smith," a rival GOP operative told the outlet. "She's got Trump by the balls, which means she can name her price for her loyalty and Trump can't say no."

In a statement, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung repeated the former president's claims that the federal investigation constitutes election interference but, notably, did not address Wiles' lobbying work.

"Jack Smith and the Special Counsel's investigation is openly engaging in outright election interference and meddling by attacking one of the leaders of President Trump's re-election campaign," Cheung said. "President Trump has consistently been in full compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which is the only law that applies to Presidents and their records."

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Yealink, a major phone maker, paid Mercury Public Affairs $240,000 in 2022, according to lobbying disclosures for that year.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., flagged the telecommunications company in September 2021, writing a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about a security analytics company's report that Yealink's phones had the capabilities to secretly record calls and track web browsing on local networks. The data the phones collect could then be transferred back to China, which requires companies to comply with government requests to turn over information connected to national security.

Mercury terminated its business with Yealink in May of this year.

The firm also had among its international clientele the U.S. subsidiary of Hikvision, from which they received more than $1.7 million in payments, according to money-in-politics tracker OpenSecrets.

The video surveillance manufacturer constructs surveillance equipment for the Chinese Government, some of which have been used to locate and detain Uyghur Muslins in Xinjiang, Axios reported in April. The Department of Commerce banned U.S. companies from working with Hikvision but not all of its subsidiaries in 2019, and the Federal Communications Commission in November rejected new-device authorizations for the manufacturer and others that were considered threats to national security.

It's unclear whether Hikvision remains a client of Mercury this year. The lobbying firm, however, still receives payments from tech giant Alibaba, in which the Chinese government maintains a minority stake, and has amassed $400,000 from the company since 2022.

Wiles did not respond to the New York Post's request for comment.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

MORE FROM Tatyana Tandanpolie

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Donald Trump Jack Smith Mar-a-lago Politics Susie Wiles