In all, it amounted to a bumpy afternoon for the agency that protects the President.
On CNN's "The Situation Room", Shawn Turner, a former official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, explained exactly the threat posed by the Chinese national arrested trying to sneak into President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago country club.
She faces federal charges of lying to a federal agent and entering a restricted property. Zhang will be held on temporary pretrial detention with no bond until then. "Zhang additionally did not give a definitive answer when asked if she was there to meet with anyone". He said Zhang said she had traveled from Shanghai to attend the nonexistent Mar-a-Lago event on the invitation of an acquaintance named "Charles", whom she only knew through a Chinese social media app. Ivanovich said she then denied telling the checkpoint agents she was a member wanting to swim. One Secret Service agent, Samuel Ivanovich, testified on Monday that he put the thumb drive into his own computer and it began installing files in a "very out-of-the-ordinary" way.
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The agent looking at the drive had to stop the analysis and shut down his computer. If she were released, she would enter the custody of immigration officials, he said.
But the head of a Palm Beach Gardens-based children's charity said an event had been scheduled at Mar-a-Lago on March 30. She showed the passports as identification. Even 7-Eleven convenience stores have video cameras, the defense attorney pointed out. A Mar-a-Lago security manager waved her past a security checkpoint after a "potential language-barrier issue" raised the possibility she was the daughter of a member who had the same last name. The room where she was interviewed didn't have that capability.
In a statement, the Secret Service said it doesn't determine who is allowed into the resort. So, it's of course possible that Zhang's thumb drive was just like every other thumb drive and happened to contain some malicious files - as opposed to malware specifically created to spy on the president or the club where he spends so much of his time. He's also the agent who attempted to conduct an analysis of the "malicious malware"-carrying thumb drive". "We don't deny someone for having so many cell phones". But the government is not alleging Zhang, 32, is a spy, prosecutor Rolando Garcia told a federal magistrate judge on Monday.
Initially, Mar-a-Lago employees seemed to think she might be a guest of one of the club's members, whose last name also is Zhang.
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The FBI is still investigating whether she is a spy, CBS News reported. After Secret Service agents were summoned, Zhang allegedly contradicted her earlier story by saying she had come early to the event to familiarize herself with the club and take photos.
The Secret Service has no audio security recordings of its interactions with her and what she said on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago.
But Garcia said that even if the judge gives her bail and she coughs it up, her business B-1 visa has already been revoked, so she would go straight into the custody of U.S. immigration officials while awaiting trial. After communication with the woman proved hard due to a perceived language barrier, staff at the club became convinced she was related to a member who has the same surname.
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