Concerns about security during and after Trump’s presidency have been heightened by the news that a second foreign national is under investigation for entering Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort at the center of an FBI probe over missing classified documents.
An OCCRP article claims that a Ukrainian woman who posed as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty is being investigated by the bureau for illegally entering a private members club.
Inna Yashchyshyn, 33, allegedly mixed with Trump, US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and others at Mar-a-Lago events while telling members she was an heiress to the Rothschild fortune.
To prove “the ease with which someone with a fake identity and shadowy background” could get past security at Trump’s club, OCCRP and the Pittsburgh Gazette reported that Yashchyshyn did just that.
The FBI obtained a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago earlier this month as part of a criminal investigation into whether Trump and his associates had improperly retained government secrets and failed to return them despite repeated requests.
Just a month prior to the search, the heads of the FBI and Britain’s domestic security service MI5 issued a stern warning about the systemic challenges posed to western economies and governments by Chinese espionage.
While serving as president of United Hearts of Mercy, a Canadian charity established in 2015 by Russian oligarch Valery Tarasenko of Florida, Yashchyshyn, the daughter of an Illinois truck driver, claimed to be a Rothschild heiress.
The Miami FBI office and the Sûreté du Québec provincial police in Canada are reportedly looking into her dealings, according to OCCRP and the Post-Gazette.
The FBI would not comment, but the Canadian equivalent confirmed that a probe into Yashchyshyn had been opened by the major crimes unit.
Three years after a Chinese national approached a Secret Service agent outside Mar-a-Lago, claiming to be a member who wanted to use the pool, news of the investigation into Yashchyshyn began to circulate. Yujing Zhang made it through security and announced to the receptionist that she was there for a UN Chinese American Association event.
However, agents discovered that she had two Chinese passports, $8,000 in cash, four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive, a thumb drive containing computer malware, and no swimsuit.
Also, despite agents’ testimony that Zhang had excellent English language skills, she claimed to have a limited grasp of the language.
Zhang allegedly lied to federal agents and breached a restricted area. After being found guilty of trespassing and lying to Secret Service agents, Zhang was sentenced to eight months in prison and deported to China.
Some have drawn parallels between the security breach at the club involving Zhang and Yashchyshyn and an incident early in Trump’s presidency, when he was discussing a response to a North Korean missile test with then-Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on a patio while diners looked on.
Remarkably, the same guest who photographed Trump and Abe also posed for a selfie with a military aide who was carrying the black leather satchel, affectionately known as “the football,” containing the codes needed to launch a nuclear strike.
A deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama administration described the situation as “unprecedented” at the time. These people are the unseen ones who make things happen.
I don’t think this group realizes the risks they’re taking by leaving themselves open to attack.
Later, Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary at the time, insisted that nothing sensitive was discussed and that the leaders instead discussed the finer points of preparing press statements.
Abe, who stepped down as prime minister in 2020, was shot and killed last month while giving a campaign speech in the Japanese city of Nara.
On Friday, a heavily redacted affidavit explaining why the FBI searched the ex-Mar-a-Lago president’s clubhouse became public. The affidavit detailed how agents had reason to believe that classified national defense information and evidence of obstruction of justice were present at the estate.
The report detailed how an FBI investigation into Trump’s return of documents to the National Archives in May 2022 revealed that the president had been hiding classified information at Mar-a-Lago.
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