Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida
A Chinese woman named Yujing Zhang was arrested at Mar-a-Lago for giving false statements to federal agents and entering a restricted building.
U.S. Secret Service agents said they seized four cell phones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and one thumb drive from Yujing Zhang. An examination of the thumb drive showed it contained malicious malware, agents said, the Palm Beach post reported.
Yujing Zhang approached Secret Service agents on Saturday at a checkpoint in a parking lot across from Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort and was able to talk her way through by telling them she wanted to use the pool at the club — she presented the federal agents with two passports from China as ID.
At first, a manager at Mar-a-Lago thought Yujing Zhang was related to another member with same last name and cleared her to enter the facility after a brief exchange where she didn’t answer definitively, but shrugged it off as perhaps a language barrier issue.
Zhang then changed her story — according to court documents, she went to a front desk receptionist and said she was there to attend the United Nations Chinese American Association event scheduled later that evening.
Since no such event was on the calendar for that evening, federal agents were called in to deal with Zhang after she became argumentative and “verbally aggressive.”
At that point, agents realized that Yujing Zhang was fluent in English and had traveled from Shanghai to attend a non-existent event at Mar-a-Lago after an acquaintance named “Charles,” whom she ‘met’ on a Chinese social media app invited her.
The Palm Beach Post reported:
Her goal, she told agents, was to try to speak to a member Trump’s family about Chinese-American economic relations. She showed agents an invitation she received to the event. Agents said they were unable to read it because it was written in Chinese.
While agents initially thought a language barrier might have led to confusion about why Zhang visited the club, they later said she had a firm grasp of English.
Agents said they have multiple officers at various checkpoints to assure unauthorized visitors can’t get into Mar-a-Lago. Club members and visitors must pass through a gauntlet of metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs.
“Had Zhang not falsely portrayed herself as a club member seeking to visit the pool, and instead advised she was there to attend the non-existent ‘United Nations Friendship Event’ … her access would have (been) declined by U.S. Secret Service at the preliminary inspection point,” they wrote.
As an aside, they said her first story about wanting to use the pool was an obvious ruse. “No swimming apparel was found in Zhang’s possession or on her person,” agents wrote.
According to reports, Zhang was never near President Trump, however, he was in Palm Beach over the weekend and stayed at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Zhang appeared in US District Court Monday and is due back in court next week for a hearing — she faces a maximum five-year prison sentence.