Susie Wiles, a high-ranking advisor for Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign and a significant player at Mercury Public Affairs, has come under scrutiny due to her ties with several Chinese firms, which are believed to have potentially detrimental implications for US national security. These firms have been implicated in human rights abuses in Beijing.
Mercury Public Affairs has, over recent years, received substantial payments from several Chinese entities, including Yealink, Hikvision, and Alibaba. Wiles’ extensive experience in GOP campaigns, including her significant role in Ron DeSantis’ bid for the Florida governorship in 2018, renders her a prominent figure within political circles.
Notably, Wiles has been identified as one of the individuals who were allegedly privy to confidential information shared by the 45th president, as ABC News reported. A recent 37-count indictment led by special counsel Jack Smith reveals that a representative from the PAC, who is reportedly Wiles, was privy to classified material during a visit to the former president’s golf club in Bedminster, NJ, in late 2021.
The classified material in question was a map of a foreign country. The former president cautioned the recipient not to get too close to the map, acknowledging its sensitive nature. The conundrum of this situation is further intensified given Wiles’ prominent standing within the Trump campaign and her firm’s lobbying services on behalf of potentially antagonistic entities. However, there is no evidence to suggest Wiles has worked directly for these clients, as per the Justice Department’s foreign agent registry.
In light of these allegations, a fellow GOP operative commented to The Post, stating Wiles possesses damning evidence that could implicate Trump in legal difficulties. The operative also suggested Wiles’ loyalty could come with a hefty price tag, to which Trump would have to acquiesce.
In defense, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung declared that these ongoing investigations are tantamount to election interference, diverting attention away from the questionable lobbying activities. He asserts Trump’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act, the governing law for presidential records.
Mercury’s clients include Yealink, a telecommunications company, flagged for security issues, having paid the lobbying firm $240,000 in 2022, as revealed by lobbying disclosures. Yealink phones were alleged to possess software capable of secretly recording calls and tracking web browsing, which could then be relayed to Chinese administrators, as pointed out by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in September 2021. Mercury continued business relations with Yealink until May 2023.
Another noteworthy client of Mercury is the US subsidiary of Hikvision, a company that manufactures surveillance equipment for the Chinese government, which has been implicated in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Hikvision was one of Mercury’s most substantial foreign clients last year, contributing over $1.7 million to the firm. Not all of its subsidiaries, however, are subjected to restrictions by the Commerce Department, which has prohibited US companies from transacting with Hikvision since 2019. The Federal Communications Commission also denied device authorizations for Hikvision and other companies identified as national security threats.
Mercury’s client list also features Alibaba, a tech behemoth with the Chinese government holding a minority stake. Since 2022, the lobbying firm has accrued $400,000 from its professional dealings with Alibaba.
The details regarding the continuation of Mercury’s business relationships with Hikvision and Alibaba in 2023 remain undisclosed. Wiles has yet to comment on these allegations.
Meanwhile, the former president, who was arraigned earlier this month on charges of withholding sensitive intelligence information and misleading federal officials, continues to assert his innocence, claiming he “did nothing wrong.”