Want the best from VICE News in your inbox? Sign up here.
If you’re going to sneak into Mar-a-Lago, it’s advisable to keep your story straight.
Yujing Zhang, 32, showed up at President Trump’s Florida club Saturday afternoon with two Chinese passports in hand and insisted to Secret Service she was there to swim — at least at first — according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
Zhang’s last name matched a Mar-a-Lago member’s name, according to a manager, so a Secret Service agent asked if that was her father. Though she reportedly "did not give a definitive answer,” they gave her the benefit of the doubt, believing there was a language barrier. She was let in.
At that point, Secret Service said in the complaint, Zhang had already seen at least three prominent signs saying she’d be arrested if she were entering the property illegally. She obviously wasn't deterred.
A Mar-a-Lago golf cart came to fetch her, presumably to take her to the pool. It was at this point Zhang said she no longer knew where she wanted to go, so she was taken to the club’s reception area. She passed another restricted-access sign on her way there, according to the criminal complaint, which she stared at for “approximately 20 seconds.”
In the reception area, a staffer asked her what she was doing there several times before Zhang responded that she was there for a United Nations Chinese American Association event. No such event existed. The receptionist flagged Secret Service.
An agent gave Zhang another chance to explain why she was at Mar-a-Lago that day. Zhang said that time that she had showed up for a “United Nations Friendship” event, and presented the agent with an invitation he couldn’t read, for an event that wasn’t on the schedule. She was then transported off of Mar-a-Lago for some customary grilling, since she'd allegedly lied to Secret Service a few times by then.
In defending herself, Zhang said she only came to Mar-a-Lago because a guy named Charles told her to do so over WeChat. The plan was to attend the event that didn’t exist, and potentially gain access to a member of Trump’s inner circle and talk about Chinese-American economic relations. She said she never told Secret Service agents she wanted to go to the pool.
Secret Service agents recovered a laptop, four cell phones, an external hard drive, and a thumb drive with malicious malware from her bag, according to the complaint. She had “no swimming apparel,” according to the complaint. She was charged with lying to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area.
Cover: A view of Mar-A Lago on Friday, March 22, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla., before Caribbean leaders talk to media after meeting with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)