32-year-old Chinese national arrested at Mar-a-Lago, had five cell phones on her had a stash of cash at her hotel room as well as a signal detector that can be used to locate hidden cameras.
At her arraignment on Monday Yujing Zhang’s attorney said she paid $20,000 to ‘party organizer’ to be at president’s club before she was found with bugging devices and malware
Secret Service agents arrested the Zhang on March 30 after they say she gained admission by falsely telling a checkpoint she was a member and was going to swim
Zhang reportedly arrived in the US two days prior on March 28, and checked into the $400-a-night Colony Hotel about two miles north of Mar-a-Lago where she stashed her electronic devices and cash
Prosecutors described Zhang, as an intruder who ‘lies to everyone she encounters’, changed her story, and had no reason to be at a restricted location
Her contacts in China forwarded receipt of the $20,000 she purportedly paid to businessman Charles Lee, the alleged organizer of the cancelled party.
Yujing Zhang also had a thumb drive with malicious malware, which a Secret Service agent inserted into his computer and it began installing files immediately
Arraigned on Monday, Zhang is charged with entering a restricted area and lying to a federal agent.
us State Dept has since revoked her visa, Immigration and Customs Enforcement put out a detainer on her
Secret Service agents arrested the 32-year-old Chinese national Yujing Zhang [seen here in her passport photo], on March 30 after she allegedly gained admission at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club, in Florida by falsely telling a checkpoint she was a member and was going to swim
The lawyer representing the woman who was arrested at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club with multiple cell phones and a thumb drive containing malicious malware says she paid $20,000 to be there.
Yujing Zhang’s attorney, Robert Adler, said his client wired $20,000 to a party organizer for access to the president’s private club to attend what she thought was a party later that night – an event that earlier in the week was cancelled.
When the 32-year-old Chinese national was arrested at Mar-a-Lago, she had four cell phones on her had a stash of cash at her hotel room as well as a signal detector that can be used to locate hidden cameras.
Adler said sources in China sent his office a receipt from what appeared to be wire transfer for $20,000 to businessman Charles Lee, the alleged organizer of the cancelled party.
Secret Service agents arrested Yujing Zhang on March 30 after they say she gained admission by falsely telling a checkpoint she was a member and was going to swim.
Before Lee’s identity was confirmed by Zhang’s lawyer, the Miami Herald reported that he had sold travel packages in China including to Mar-a-Lago parties.
Zhang’s lawyer made the case that his client was entitled to be present at the president’s exclusive club, and spoke during a hearing in Palm Beach. Prosecutors described Zhang as an intruder who lied, changed her story, and had no reason to be at a restricted location.
He also said his client was not outfitted with spy gear. ‘She did not have the type of devices that can be associated with espionage activities,’ he said, according to the Herald.
Earlier court documents revealed that when Zhang was questioned by the Secret Service, she claimed a person she identified only as ‘Charles’ had told her to attend a United Nations Chinese Friendship Association event at the club.
Suspicion immediately focused on Lee, who is president of the association. Cindy Yang, who previously owned a string of day spas including one where New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was arrested, had been promoting the event.
Prosecutors revealed the results of a search on the hotel room that she had booked. In addition to the signal detector, authorities located another cell phone – bringing the total she had with her on the trip to five – plus a total of nine USB drives and five SIM cards, according to prosecutors.
Zhang made an appearance in court Monday, giving the public its first glimpse of the alleged intruder with a trove of electronics. She was there for a bond hearing, and continues to be held in a Palm Beach County jail. She has an arraignment scheduled for next week.
At Monday’s court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia said of Zhang: ‘She lies to everyone she encounters.’
Artist sketch as Yujing Zhang, [left], listens to a hearing Monday, April 8, 2019, before federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Adler insisted that a communication barrier is at the root of Zhang’s arrest. Zhang didn’t fully understand agent’s questions, he said.
While a Mandarin-speaking agent was available during parts of the interview, Ivanovich said it was conducted in English. “We all believed she adequately spoke English to conduct an interview with her,” Ivanovich said. “I asked her multiple times if she could understand what I was saying and she answered multiple times that she could.”
At both court appearances, Zhang has asked for an interpreter. When Matthewman asked Zhang if she understood the translator and his decisions, she answered in English: “Yes, I understand.”
Zhang, who said she worked as a consultant to a Shanghai investment business and is trying to start her own investment firm, arrived in the United States on March 28. She flew into the airport in Newark, N.J., airport on a direct flight from Shanghai. It was her fifth visit to the United States following one trip here in July 2016, twice in 2017 and once in September 2018.
Her arrest has raised questions about the Secret Service agency’s ability to protect the president and his family at Mar-a-Lago. In an emailed statement, the agency acknowledged that it has no control over whether members are allowed to enter the exclusive club. But, they said, they control who gets near Trump and his family.
He said there is ‘no allegation that she is involved in any espionage,’ the Washington Post reported.
However he also noted that ‘a lot of questions that remain to be answered.’
A day after her arrival in the U.S., Zhang checked into the $400-a-night Colony Hotel about two miles north of Mar-a-Lago.
There, Garcia said, investigators found numerous electronic devices and $7,620 as well as about $600 in Chinese Yuan. Her cash stash totaled about $7,500 in hundred dollar bills.
According to court documents, Zhang told a Secret Service agent before her arrest that her contact 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 FBI has been investigating the incident for possible espionage connections. The timing of her arrival in the U.S. also reveals she came her just two days before her bust inside the president’s club on a Saturday.
She flew from Shanghai to Newark Liberty International Airport on a tourist visa on March 28. The was arrested March 30.
During a hearing last week, Zhang told the judge that she typically brings cash with her on trips to the United States, but did not indicate that she had several thousand dollars.
President Trump was out golfing on the course at the time of the arrest and wasn’t there. He later scoffed at the arrest as a ‘fluke’.
Trump said immediately after the arrest he was not concerned at all about security at his Florida residence.
‘I’m not concerned at all,’ he said at the White House. ‘I think that was just a fluke situation and I think that the person sitting at the front desk did a very good job to be honest with you.’
Zhang is charged with entering a restricted area and lying to a federal agent.
According to the Palm Beach Daily News, the U.S. State Department has since revoked her visa and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement put out a detainer on her.