A woman carrying two Chinese passports has been charged with lying to secret service agents to gain access to US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
The woman, 32-year-old Yujing Zhang, raised suspicion last weekend after giving differing reasons to staff for attending the private resort in Florida, according to court documents.
She told secret service agents at a primary checkpoint that she was a club member simply visiting the pool, but later told a receptionist that she was attending a non-existent United Nations event.
After agents were called, Zhang maintained that she was attending a United Nations Chinese American event at the club, but that she had turned up early to look around and take pictures.
She later added that she had been invited by an online friend called Charles, who wanted her to talk to Mr Trump’s family about US-China economic relations.
While there was no such event in the club’s calendar, the Miami Herald reported that Zhang may have been trying to gain access to one of two events originally scheduled – a local charity event and an “international leaders elite forum”.
Neither events took place after the organiser, Li Yang, was found to have used pictures taken with high-profile US politicians as proof that she could get her clients access to Mr Trump.
When Zhang was informed that she could not stay, court records say she became “verbally aggressive”, resulting in her being transported to a secret service office for interview.
Agent Samuel Ivanovich noted in the same documents that an assumed language barrier between staff and Zhang had led to an initial confusion at the resort’s primary checkpoint, where she was given access after being mistaken for the daughter of a club member.
But in the later interview with secret service, Zhang demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the English language, Mr Ivanovich said.
Swimming attire was also not found on Zhang’s person, despite her initial insistence that she was visiting the pool, and she was instead found to be carrying several electronic devices, including four phones, a laptop, an external hard drive and a memory stick infected with “malicious malware”.
Zhang could face up to five years in prison if she is convicted on the charges of lying to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area.
She is currently being held in custody ahead of her preliminary hearing later this month.
While Mr Trump was in West Palm Beach on Saturday, he was not close to the incident.
Zhang’s public defender has declined to comment.
Source: SKY NEWS