Mar-A-Lago Intruder Convicted Over Attempt To Enter Private POTUS Club

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump and Slovenian model Melania Knauss will hold their reception at the mansion tonight ... UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump and Slovenian model Melania Knauss will hold their reception at the mansion tonight after their nuptials at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. (Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
September 11, 2019 2:56 p.m.

The mysterious Chinese woman who tried and failed to enter Mar-a-Lago back in March was convicted of lying to Secret Service agents and of trespassing on Wednesday, in a trial that saw the 33-year old fire her public defenders and represent herself.

Yujing Zhang faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison over the charges, which raised glaring questions over the nexus of access peddling and potential security issues at the President’s private club in Florida.

The trial got off to a weird start on Monday, with a wardrobe malfunction involving Zhang. But the trial ended after just a few days, and jurors deliberated for four and a half hours on Wednesday before delivering their verdict.

Reports from the courtroom relayed that Zhang showed no emotion as the guilty verdict was delivered.

Zhang, a Shanghai businesswoman, was arrested in March after telling Secret Service agents that she was a member of Mar-a-Lago.

In reality, Zhang was trying to attend an event that had been cancelled, and which had been promoted by south Florida massage mogul Cindy Yang. During searches of Zhang’s belongings, federal agents found a device that could detect hidden cameras, four cellphones, a laptop, external hard drive, thousands of dollars in cash, and multiple credit and debit cards. When Secret Service agents examined the hard drive, they found that it contained an “aggressive” form of malware.

At trial, prosecutors said that Zhang later lied about not knowing that the event she intended to attend was cancelled. The government reportedly cited text messages in which she was informed of the cancellation and demanded a refund before her abortive attempt to enter Mar-a-Lago.

All this led to suspicions that Zhang may have been some kind of Chinese intelligence asset, though experts familiar with skullduggery suggested that her attempt was too clumsy to be that of a professional.

Zhang made strange choices throughout the case, ranging from firing her public defenders to switching from speaking though a Mandarin Chinese translator to halting English.

Judge Roy Altman reportedly grew frustrated with her conduct at various points, reportedly telling her to “stop playing games.”

Support The TPM Journalism Fund
  • Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
  • Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30