On March 30, Yujing Zhang allegedly breached security at President Donald Trump’s private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago.
On Monday, she appeared in court. On Tuesday, the news broke, including that the woman was said to be in possession of Chinese passports and malware.
And on Wednesday, Trump said he was “not concerned.”
Here is what we know so far about the incident:
Zhang was charged with making false statements to a federal officer and entering a restricted area.
According to the criminal complaint against Zhang, she allegedly lied her way through security at Mar-a-Lago and breached a “protective zone”
The President was off the property at the time of the incident.
The complaint said Zhang approached the club midday, said she was going to the pool and provided two Chinese passports to a Secret Service agent.
Mar-a-Lago security “was unable to locate and verify Zhang” on the guest list, but a club official, when reached by security, said Zhang was the last name of a member of the club. Asked if Zhang was her father, she “did not give a definitive answer,” according to the complaint, and the club allowed her along, believing “due to a language barrier issue” that she was related to a club member named Zhang.
Zhang moved further into the property and was taken by a valet driver to the club’s main reception area, passed numerous restriction signs and went through a checkpoint with magnetometers.
Zhang eventually told a receptionist she was there to attend a “United Nations Chinese American Association” event that evening – an event that did not exist, the complaint states. She later told the Secret Service she was there to attend a similarly named event, which also was not on the schedule.
During a second interview, Zhang “claimed her Chinese friend ‘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,” according to the court filing.
Agents found four cell phones, a laptop, an “external hard drive type device” and a thumb drive in Zhang’s possession.
“A preliminary forensic examination of the thumb drive determined it contained malicious malware,” the complaint said.
First court appearance
Zhang was charged on Monday, April 1, and appeared before Magistrate Judge William Matthewman.
A detention hearing is scheduled for April 8 and arraignment for April 15.
CNN obtained audio of the hearing, where Zhang could be heard speaking broken English and asked for the help of a translator. She was read the charges against her and told she could face up to six years in prison.
A federal prosecutor called Zhang “an extreme risk of flight” and said she had no ties to the US or Mar-a-Lago area, the audio showed. A prosecutor said also that the Chinese consulate was made aware of Zhang’s arrest the day it happened.
“The People’s Republic of China is well aware of the fact that she has been arrested,” Assistant US Attorney John McMillan said.
Zhang’s connections to US
During the hearing, Zhang said through an interpreter that she had been in the US with her family for only a short time “so we’re not familiar with the laws and also with which attorneys are good.” She later said “my family is in China.”
Zhang said she had a friend in the US, but that she did not know his contact information and did not name him.
Zhang said she works as an investor and consultant for a Chinese company that she identified as the Shanghai Zhirong Asset Management Corporation.
She also said Monday that she had a Wells Fargo bank account in the US and had been exploring business options there.
CNN reported on Wednesday that the FBI had begun investigating the possibility that the incident was an espionage effort.
The US official who confirmed the espionage probe said the FBI is doing what it has to do in these circumstances, when there is a foreign national involved and there is a possibility of counterintelligence or cyber security issues.
Trump dismissed concerns about the incident when asked about potential Chinese espionage on Wednesday.
“No, I’m not concerned at all,” Trump said.
Trump described it a “fluke situation,” praising both the Secret Service and the receptionist who stopped Zhang.
“The result is they were able to get her, and she is now suffering the consequences,” Trump said.
Concerns about security, China
The breach has highlighted long-brewing concerns about security at Mar-a-Lago.
Mar-a-Lago allows members, their guests and people attending events at the club to enter and move around, even as Trump makes his frequent visits to the Florida club.
The unique nature of Trump conducting official business at the semi-public location – rather than the White House or retreats favored by previous presidents – was of international significance just days into his time on job, when he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could be seen responding in real time to a North Korean missile launch.
Later the same year, Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago as the US conducted airstrikes on Syria and the two world leaders ate the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen,” as Trump put it.
Potential interest from China in Mar-a-Lago has drawn particular scrutiny. Top congressional Democrats have called for a new FBI investigation into a Florida woman’s apparent ties to Trump, focusing on whether Cindy Yang illegally sought to leverage her relationship with the President by selling access to Chinese clients.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, built on the request in a letter to top officials on Wednesday, asking for a briefing on security at Mar-a-Lago and Zhang’s arrest.
Among other things, Schiff requested to know the status of the investigation and whether China has attempted to conduct “influence operations” at the club.
CNN’s David Shortell, Erica Orden, Evan Perez, Jeremy Diamond and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.