JUST IN: FBI Investigating Possible Chinese Spying After Woman Entered Mar-a-Lago With 4 Phones, Thumb Drive, Malware
Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida
The Feds are now investigating a possible Chinese espionage effort targeting President Trump and his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago following the arrest of Yujing Zhang.
A Chinese woman named Yujing Zhang was arrested at Mar-a-Lago for giving false statements to federal agents and entering a restricted building.
U.S. Secret Service agents said they seized four cell phones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and one thumb drive from Yujing Zhang. An examination of the thumb drive showed it contained malicious malware, agents said, the Palm Beach post reported.
Now the FBI believes Yujing Zhang may be part of a Chinese Intelligence operation.
The Miami Herald reported:
The ongoing investigation has also recently focused on Li “Cindy” Yang, the sources told the Herald. Yang is a South Florida massage parlor entrepreneur who has promoted events at Mar-a-Lago with ads targeting Chinese business executives hoping to gain access to Trump and his family. The investigation — spearheaded by the FBI — began before the Herald revealed Yang’s business of selling access last month and focused on other Chinese nationals doing business in the region.
Before her arrest, Zhang was unknown to federal authorities. Now, investigators with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in South Florida are trying to figure out who Zhang is, whether she is involved in a possible Chinese intelligence mission and whether there are links to Yang’s social events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
Federal investigators are examining the 4 cell phones, a laptop, thumb drive, external hard drive and malware seized from Zhang on Saturday.
Yujing Zhang approached Secret Service agents on Saturday at a checkpoint in a parking lot across from Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort and was able to talk her way through by telling them she wanted to use the pool at the club — she presented the federal agents with two passports from China as ID.
At first, a manager at Mar-a-Lago thought Yujing Zhang was related to another member with same last name and cleared her to enter the facility after a brief exchange where she didn’t answer definitively, but shrugged it off as perhaps a language barrier issue.
Zhang then changed her story — according to court documents, she went to a front desk receptionist and said she was there to attend the United Nations Chinese American Association event scheduled later that evening.
Since no such event was on the calendar for that evening, federal agents were called in to deal with Zhang after she became argumentative and “verbally aggressive.”
At that point, agents realized that Yujing Zhang was fluent in English and had traveled from Shanghai to attend a non-existent event at Mar-a-Lago after an acquaintance named “Charles,” whom she ‘met’ on a Chinese social media app invited her.
According to reports, Zhang was never near President Trump, however, he was in Palm Beach over the weekend and stayed at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Zhang appeared in US District Court Monday and is due back in court next week for a hearing — she faces a maximum five-year prison sentence based on current charges.
At the time of this publication, Zhang, who was born in 1986 according to court records, has not been charged with any crimes related to espionage.