Chinese woman arrested at Trump's Florida resort to remain in custody

Gerardo Harmon
April 11, 2019

A Chinese woman previously charged with making false statements to a federal official in order to obtain access to President Donald Trump's Palm Beach, Florida Mar-a-Lago resort appeared in court on Monday afternoon.

The woman, identified as Zhang Yujing in Asian media, is reportedly being treated as a potential national-security threat, though the actual reason for her Palm Beach visit remains unclear.

New details are starting to trickle in about the Chinese woman arrested while carrying a suspicious number of electronic devices and trying to get inside President Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club - among them that a USB drive in her possession began to auto-install files on a Secret Service agent's computer the minute he plugged it in.

She was then escorted off the property and questioned by another Secret Service Agent.

Federal prosecutors argued during Monday's hearing that Zhang was a flight risk because she had no ties to the United States and couldn't be trusted to tell the truth.

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"The preliminary analysis of her phones shows she was not there for an event at Mar-a-Lago", prosecutor Rolando Garcia said during the Monday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Florida.

"T$3 here is no allegation [in the criminal complaint] she was involved in espionage", Garcia said, "all of of this is irrelevant".

The FBI is still investigating whether she is a spy, CBS News reported. "She did not have the type of devices that can be associated with espionage activities", Adler said, according to The Washington Post. She told the receptionist that she was there to attend the United Nations Chinese American Association event scheduled for that evening, and had come early to familiarize herself with the club and take photos.

During Zhang's interview following her arrest, she claimed her Chinese friend "Charles" told her to travel from Shanghai to Palm Beach to attend this event and attempt to speak with a member of the President's family about Chinese and American economic relations, according to the criminal complaint filed against her. Zhang entered the United States legally on a tourist visa. The president brushed off the concerns, calling the incident a "fluke" and praising the Secret Service.

A search showed that, when Zhang entered Mar-a-Lago, she was carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive, and a thumb drive.

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The agent looking at the drive had to stop the analysis and shut down his computer. It suggests that the agent connected the drive to the same computer used for official Secret Service work. Zhang had claimed to authorities that she was at Mar-a-Lago to attend an event that day hosted by a group with a almost identical name.

After being questioned for about 90 minutes at a property neighboring Mar-a-Lago, Zhang was taken to the local Secret Service office for questioning that lasted about seven hours.

Agents say she wasn't on the membership list, but a club manager thought Zhang was the daughter of a member.

There is no indication Zhang was ever near the president, who was at his nearby golf course at that time. He said Zhang said an acquaintance named "Charles" had invited her to the nonexistent event.

A prosecutor says the Federal Bureau of Investigation is still investigating whether a Chinese woman accused of lying to illegally enter President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida is a spy.

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Terry Bomar, who heads the nonprofit Young Adventurers, said the event was canceled after he discovered it had been hijacked by Cindy Yang, the former owner of a Jupiter day spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution.

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