That the Trump administration has a national security problem has been obvious, particularly since the revelations about the 25 administration members who skirted the official security clearance screenings when senior White House officials overturned the recommendations to deny them made by career professionals.
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While the president remains intensely focused on the “national emergency” at the southern border — an emergency that is largely a product of his imagination only enhanced by the policies of his own making — real threats to national security remain unaddressed.
Trump’s failure to divest himself of the properties that create such conflicts of interest for him as president — with his accused violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause — has created its own set of national security risks as well, as a recent incident at his Mar-a-Lago resort demonstrates.
As a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida explains, a woman carrying a Chinese passport was arrested this past Saturday after attempting to enter Mar-a-Lago while Trump was on one of his overly frequent and personally lucrative weekend golf trips to his resort.
Yujing Zhang approached a Secret Service checkpoint at the property and initially claimed that she was there to visit the pool. The agent who was questioning her called the manager of the Mar-a-Lago Beach Club and was informed that the club did indeed have a member with the surname of Zhang. The agent then asked if the member was her father, but attributed her inconclusive answer to a language barrier and allowed her to enter the resort.
After a shuttle ride to the main reception area, Zhang was approached by a receptionist for the property who asked why she was visiting Mar-a-Lago. Instead of repeating her initial reason of visiting the Beach Club, however, Zhang this time replied that she was there for a United Nations Chinese American Association event later in the evening and wanted to take pictures and get the lay of the land in advance of the meeting.
Unfortunately for Zhang, the receptionist was well versed on the event schedule for the day at the resort and knew that no such association meeting was on the calendar. Soon, the Chinese woman was escorted off of the property by the Secret Service for further questioning.
After becoming “verbally aggressive” with her questioner using proficient Engish language skills she hadn’t previously revealed, Zhang was arrested, brought to the West Palm Beach office of the Secret Service, and read her Miranda rights. During her detention, she was discovered to be in the possession of four different mobile phones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive, and a USB thumb drive that was loaded with “malicious malware.” Zhang was also discovered to not be in the possession of any sort of swimwear for the pool she was supposedly visiting.
The combination of a foreign national in possession of malware with a president who has a habit of using insecure mobile phones and speaking to his friends about issues that could impact the safety of all Americans is a Secret Service agent’s nightmare and a foreign intelligence agent’s wet dream.
With a president more concerned about imaginary threats to his vision of a white nationalist controlled nation than about actual threats to national security, the Trump administration not only has a deeply concerning national security problem but it has completely lost perspective on where the biggest threats lay in waiting and how to address them.
Do you feel safer knowing that President Trump is in charge of national security? Or are simply more terrified of that reality with each passing day? The evidence is much more compelling for the latter response.
You can read the criminal complaint filed against Yujing Zhang and the full story as told by the arresting agent in the tweet below sent by Guardian reporter Jon Swaine.
New: Chinese woman carrying four cellphones and computer equipment including a thumb drive containing malware has been charged with lying her way into Mar-a-Lago while Trump was there last weekend https://t.co/fRI6QztNe8
— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) April 2, 2019
UPDATE: According to the Miami Herald, although the woman, Yujing Zhang, told officials she was there for a “United Nations Chinese American Association Event,” her actual purpose there was to attend an event associated with massage parlor owner Li “Cindy” Yang who gained notoriety when New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was arrested at a “rub and tug” salon she once owned near the president’s resort and who promoted her ability to get Chinese business contacts access to Trump.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.