No socks, no problem for the president-elect.
At a New Year’s Eve bash at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday, Donald Trump shared the stage with a convicted felon who goes by the nickname “Joey No Socks,” a video obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News reveals.
In the clip, Joseph “Joey No Socks” Cinque stands by Trump’s side loudly cheering on the president-elect as he lists off his campaign promises before hundreds of guests.
“The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” Trump says as Cinque grins and pumps his fists.
Cinque was convicted in 1989 of criminal possession of stolen art, a felony, CNN reported. And according to a 1995 profile in New York magazine, Cinque was friends with the infamous Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. The magazine also reported that Cinque was “shot three times and left for dead” in a 1980 incident that Cinque insisted was a “robbery,” but that “officials” said was “more likely a hit.”
Cinque now serves as president and CEO of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (AAHS), which presents “Star Diamond” awards to restaurants and hotels and has listed Trump as an “ambassador extraordinaire” as recently as 2015. Roughly half of the other approximately 30 honorary AAHS trustees are Trump family members, friends and business associates, The Week reports, citing the Associated Press.
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The Week also notes that Trump paid tribute to Cinque in 2009, calling him “a special guy” and adding, “There’s nobody like him.”
But in a May interview with the AP, Trump downplayed his relationship with Cinque, saying, “If a guy’s going to give you an award, you take it. You don’t tend to look up his whole life story.”
He also told Yahoo News of Cinque in May, “I don’t know him. I just find him to be a very nice man, and I don’t know his background. I really don’t.”
Asked for comment about Trump’s relationship with Cinque, the president-elect’s transition team told CNN this week, “Mr. Trump never denied knowing Mr. Cinque.”
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen tells PEOPLE that Trump’s connection to the convicted felon could further erode the American people’s trust in the president-elect.
“There is a well documented history of a relationship between these two men. Overall it’s a small story, but it’s reflective of the wrong attitude on his part. In business, the deal outcome is all that matters. In politics, leadership means trust and shared values. People want to respect their president. He needs to show more of that.”