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 paid $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 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 Charles Lee, the alleged organizer of the cancelled party.
In this artist sketch, a Chinese woman, Yujing Zhang, left, listens to a hearing Monday, April 8, 2019, before federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman in West Palm Beach, Fla. Secret Service agents arrested the 32-year-old woman March 30 after they say she gained admission by falsely telling a checkpoint she was a member and was going to swim
‘This receipt is evidence of a payment from Ms. Zhang to attend an event at Mar-a-Lago that night,’ Adler told U.S. Magistrate William Matthewman in court.
He made the case that his client was entitled to be present at the president’s exclusive club at a hearing in Palm Beach where prosecutors described her as an intruder who lied, changed her story, and had no reason to be at a restricted location.
The White House is downplaying a security breach at Mar-a-Lago following the arrest of Yujing Zhang, a Chinese woman, who tried to enter the club over the weekend
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.
Prosecutors revealed the results of a search on the hotel room that had been booked by the woman, Yujing Zhang, who was arrested inside President Trump‘s private club after talking her way past security.
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.
During her arrest she was carrying a thumb drive loaded with malware as well as a pair of Chinese passports and the four phones.
At a court hearing Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia said of Zhang: ‘She lies to everyone she encounters.’
He said there is ‘no allegation that she is involved in any espionage,’ the Washington Post reported, with her cash stash totaling about $8,000.
However he also noted that ‘a lot of questions that remain to be answered.’
A day after her arrival, Zhang checked into the $400-a-night Colony Hotel about two miles north of Mar-a-Lago.
There, Garcia said, investigator found numerous electronic devices and $7,620 as well as about $600 in Chinese Yuan.
According to the Secret Service in court documents, Zhang says 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 Shanhai to Newark, arriving March 28. The was arrested March 30.
Trump was golfing at the time of the arrest and wasn’t there.
Zhang is charged with entering a restricted area and lying to a federal agent. The magistrate judge overseeing the case revoked her visa, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
Yang, 45, seen in foreground with President Trump and a guest at Mar-a-Lago in February at a Mar-a-Lago Super Bowl party
Her arrest came followed months of reports about the ability of private individuals and their guests to get close to the president through club membership purchases, which go for $200,000 at the Trump-owned club.
Her appearance also followed revelations about Orchids of Asia day spa owner Cindy Yang, who advertised efforts in Chinese to arrange access to Trump family members. Her former spa is where New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution, which he denies.
With chains wrapped around her waist and hands cuffed, the diminutive Zhang sat at the defendant’s table Monday listening to a live translator explaining the proceedings to her in Mandarin.
Adler told the judge Li was advertising the party in China and made it look through photos of himself with the like of Arnold Schwarzenegger that he had the ability to get people into Mar-a-Lago.
Tickets for most charity events at Mar-a-Lago vary between $300 and $1,000.
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.’
A security agent stands guard at the Mar-a-Lago Club where US President-elect Donald Trump is holding meetings December 30, 2016, in Palm Beach, Florida
President Donald Trump was at his nearby golf course when the Chinese woman was arrested with two passports, four cell phones and computer drive with ‘malware’
Closely guarded: Secret Service officers and agents have a presence at the club
The White House attacked Democrats and the media for focusing on the arrest
On Monday it was revealed that Trump fired the head of the U.S. Secret Service after the agency blamed the club for determining who does and does not get inside.
The Secret Service made clear in a statement issued Tuesday night after the incident that it is the club, not the agency, who determines who gains admission to the president’s private club – a for-profit venture.
Zhang got waived into the club despite not being on a pre-approved list of guests, and not even clearly stating her supposed connection to a club member or identifying a legitimate event she was there to attend.
‘The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity,’ according to the agency’s statement.
‘The Mar-a-Lago club management determines which members and guests are granted access to the property. This access does not afford an individual proximity to the President or other Secret Service protectees.’
In the case of Zhang, a Mar-a-Lago staffer decided to let her in, believing her to be related to a club member with the same last name ‘due to a potential language barrier issue,’ according to court documents.
According to a Secret Service agent’s affidavit: ‘Had ZHANG not falsely portrayed herself as a club member seeking to visit the pool, and instead advised she was there to attend the non-existent ‘United Nations Friendship Event” between China and the United States, her access would have declined by U.S. Secret Service at the preliminary inspection point.’
It lists a total of seven agents who were present at checkpoints or who the woman passed by on the way to her second screening.
Club member Cindy Yang had advertised two events for Saturday, the day of the arrest, although Zhang did not name either of them. Yang is the former owner of Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution. She is accused of trying to sell access to Trump by posting pictures of herself with Trump and family members at events.
Zhang is being represented by a public defender.
While being questioned before her arrest, Zhang said a person she knew as ‘Charles’ told her to attend the UN Friendship event.
The day she was there, an event had been scheduled at Trump’s club by a non-profit called Young Adventures.
Terry Bomar, who runs it, said he cancelled the event ‘after he discovered it had been hijacked by Cindy Yang,’ according to the Palm Beach Daily News, in reference to the former day spa owner.
Her web site had posted a flier listing the event, and displaying a picture of Trump’s sister Elizabeth Trump-Grau, one of several Trump family members she had met in posed grip-and-grin photos. He said the president’s sister was to be the guest of honor at the event.