A Chinese woman allegedly carrying two passports and a thumb drive full of malware has been charged with lying to a federal official and trespassing over a supposed Saturday attempt to enter Mar-a-Lago while Trump was visiting South Florida.
Prosecutors in South Florida allege Yujing Zhang lied to a Secret Service agent to access Mar-a-Lago, claiming after her arrest that she had flown from Shanghai to “speak with a member of the President’s family about Chinese and American foreign economic relations.”
White House press pool reports suggest that Trump was in Jupiter, Florida, at the Trump National Golf Club at the time of Zhang’s arrest, which occurred on March 30.
An unsealed affidavit by a Secret Service agent assigned to Mar-a-Lago tells the story of Zhang’s arrest.
She allegedly arrived at Mar-a-Lago and told a Secret Service agent that she wanted to go to the pool.
“Mar-a-Lago security then called the manager of the Beach club to attempt to verify,” the affidavit reads.
It appears that Mar-a-Lago may have gotten its Zhangs mixed up. The affidavit then reads that the Mar-a-Lago manager on duty told security that “ZHANG is the last name of a member at the Mar-a-Lago club.”
“ZHANG was asked if the true member, who shall be referred to as “HZ” herein, was her father, but she did not give a definitive answer,” the filing reads.
The impasse supposedly continued, with Zhang not giving “definitive answers” on the purpose of her visit or on whether she was a member.
Regardless, Mar-a-Lago security allowed her through.
“Due to a potential language barrier issue, Mar-a-Lago believed her to be a relative of member Zhang and allowed her access to the property,” the affidavit says.
Zhang then allegedly hopped on a valet-driven golf cart shuttle, which let her off at the main reception area after Zhang told the valet that “she didn’t know where she wanted to go.”
The Mar-a-Lago receptionist eventually called the Secret Service, after Zhang claimed to be there for a “United Nations Chinese American Association event” that did not appear to exist” and after the receptionist was unable to find her on any “access list” for the president’s exclusive south Florida hobnobbing forum.
The story gets odder from there. Zhang allegedly told Secret Service agents that she came early to the non-existent event “so she could familiarize herself with the property and take pictures,” and also presented a Chinese-language document that she claimed was an invitation.
The agent claims that Zhang also began to speak in English “freely and without difficulty,” at one point purportedly reading a legal document granting access to her electronic devices out loud to the Secret Service agents while asking them to explain the context of certain words in the form.
At one point, the affidavit says, Zhang “became verbally aggressive” with the Secret Service, and she was moved from Mar-a-Lago to the agents’ Palm Beach field office.
There, Zhang allegedly told agents that “her Chinese friend ‘Charles’ told her to travel from Shanghai, China to Palm Beach, Florida, to attend this event and attempt to speak with a member of the President’s family about Chinese and American foreign economic relations.” The two supposedly communicated via WeChat, a messaging app popular in China.
The newspaper reported last week that Yang had partnered with a Chinese event promoter named Charles Lee, who runs the United Nations Chinese Friendship Association.
Yang had reportedly been working with Lee to promote both a fundraiser called Safari Night and “International Leaders Elite Forum,” neither of which took place but both of which had been previously scheduled to occur on March 30 at Mar-a-Lago – the day Zhang attempted to gain entry.
Zhang’s statements appear to correspond to Lee and his group.
A search purportedly authorized by Zhang uncovered two “Republic of China” passports, a laptop, four cellphones, one external hard drive, and the thumb drive that allegedly contained malware.
Read the charging document below:
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