But the Secret Service is accusing Yujing Zhang of lying to gain access to the president’s private club while carrying a thumb drive infected with computer malware.
Zhang, 32, never got near the president, but her presence on the property Trump likes to call the Southern White House led the president’s security team to have her arrested and charged with making false statements to federal law enforcement and unlawfully entering restricted grounds.
According to a federal arrest affidavit, Zhang arrived at the Mar-a-Lago Club early Saturday afternoon pretending she wanted to use the pool. She was not a member, but she shared the last name of a club member. Club security officials tried to determine whether she was related to the member, but Zhang feigned a language barrier and did not give a straight answer to their questions, according to the affidavit.
Zhang was allowed onto the property, but went nowhere near the pool. Instead, she showed up at another security checkpoint, this time headed to the main reception area, passing a half dozen signs warning that unauthorized access on the property is a federal crime.
She then told a front desk receptionist she was there to attend the United Nations Chinese American Association event scheduled for that evening. The event invitation she presented was written in Chinese. No such event was scheduled.
That’s when federal agents took over. Once Zhang was taken to the nearest Secret Service office, it became clear that she was fluent in English, according to Agent Samuel Ivanovich, who wrote the affidavit. She denied ever telling an agent that she wanted to use the pool, though three witnesses contradicted her.
Ivanovich said Zhang carried four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive containing computer malware. She did not have a swimsuit.
She remains in custody pending a hearing next week. Her public defender, Robert Adler, declined comment.
There is no indication Zhang was ever near the president. There is also no indication that she is connected to Li Yang, a Chinese native, Republican donor and former Florida massage parlor owner. Yang recently made news after it was learned she was promising Chinese business leaders that her consulting firm could get them access to Mar-a-Lago where they could mingle with the president.
Mar-a-Lago has attracted a host of strange visitors since Trump became president, according to reports from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.
None of the reports appears to detail serious threats to the president’s safety.
One employee drove into a checkpoint in late 2017 and was caught spraying cologne in an attempt to cover the smell of marijuana in his car. Deputies found a small bag of marijuana and issued the man a notice to appear in court.
He asked for his marijuana back. Deputies said no.
Another man headed to the club was stopped at Palm Beach International Airport last April 20 intent on smoking marijuana with the president. The man, who was from Ohio, left the airport in the backseat of a patrol vehicle, arrested for possession of methamphetamine.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.