A woman carrying two passports from the People's Republic of China, four cellphones, and a thumb drive containing “malicious malware” managed to skirt multiple layers of security at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Florida.
An affidavit signed by a Secret Service agent described how Yujing Zhang, 33, allegedly made false statements to agents and made it deep into one of President Trump’s marquee properties before a receptionist discovered she was not “on any Mar-a-Lago access list.”
According to the court documents, Zhang arrived at the club on Saturday seeking to use the pool. After a dispute over whether Zhang was related to another member with the same last name and “due to a potential language barrier issue…[security] allowed her access onto the property.” Agents said later Zhang was able to speak English “freely and without difficulty.”
Once inside Zhang changed her story, according to the affidavit, telling a receptionist she was there to attend a “United Nations Chinese American Association” event that evening. The receptionist discovered Zhang was not on a club access list and alerted Secret Service agents, who promptly transported her off the property for an interview.
Zhang later told agents she was sent by a Chinese friend named “Charles” to travel from Shanghai to the Palm Beach resort to try to discuss “Chinese and American foreign economic relations” with a Trump family member, according to the affidavit.
Federal prosecutors in Florida have charged Zhang with making false statements to a federal agent and entering restricted grounds.
President Trump spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, but at the time Zhang managed to gain access to the resort the president was off-site at his nearby golf course.
The Secret Service says the investigation is ongoing. Zhang's public defender did not immediately respond to request for comment.
This latest accusation of improper access at Mar-a-Lago comes in the wake of another controversy involving Chinese immigrant Cindy Yang. Through a now-defunct consulting firm, Yang appeared to advertise to Chinese businesspeople access to Trump and his inner circle at Mar-a-Lago.
Last month, congressional Democrats asked the FBI to investigate and determine whether Yang’s purported activity amounted to a counter-intelligence threat. In an interview, Yang told ABC News she’s not a threat and was only being targeted because she’s Chinese, a Republican and a Trump supporter.
Editor's Note: The Department of Justice initially incorrectly identified Yujing Zhang's passports as from the Republic of China, more commonly known as Taiwan. The agency later issued a correction identifying her passports as from the People's Republic of China. A previous version of this report also misstated Zhang’s age. She is 33-years-old. The story has been updated to reflect the changes.