Trial Of Chinese Woman Accused Of Infiltrating Mar-A-Lago Delayed Due To ... Lack Of Underwear?

The judge assigned to the case has previously accused of Yujing Zhang of “playing games.”

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Yujing Zhang Ap

A Chinese consultant accused of lying her way onto President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort experienced a series of hiccups with her trial on Monday when she claimed to have not been given any proper underwear to wear during the proceedings.

Prior to jury selection, Yujing Zhang arrived to the courtroom wearing a brown jail uniform instead of street clothing, and told Judge Roy Altman that she had not been given any underwear, NBC News reports, adding that it’s customary for defendants to wear what’s known as civilian clothing to avoid incurring prejudice from jurors.

She was eventually allowed to change into a shirt and pants in a holding cell, but the wardrobe change delayed jury selection for a time, according to the outlet.

Zhang’s case has been an ongoing curiosity since her March 30 arrest. The 33-year-old has been accused of lying to members of the Secret Service standing guard at a security checkpoint at the Palm Beach, Florida club, CNN previously reported.

She first claimed to have been visiting the resort to use the pool, but then, mere minutes later, told another agent that she was on the premises to attend a “United Nations Friendship Event,” even producing an invitation written in Chinese, according to the outlet. (In reality, that event had been canceled and Zhang notified, according to NBC News.)

She allegedly lied a third time and said that she’d been sent there to talk to Trump or a member of his family about “foreign economic relations” between their two countries.

Zhang was found to have been carrying a computer, multiple hard drives, and a cellphone when she was taken into custody, NBC News reports. She reportedly told agents when questioned that she brought the electronics with her to the club because she feared they’d be stolen if left in her hotel room.

Even more curiously, investigators say they later recovered from her hotel room multiple cell phones, credit cards, thousands of dollars in cash, and a device used to detect the presence of hidden cameras, according to another CNN report.

However, Zhang is not facing charges related to espionage, despite the suspicion surrounding her story and sealed evidence that prosecutors have said is related to national security, NBC News reports.

Zhang has chosen to represent herself in court, despite the judge’s frequent urging to retain a public defender, according to the outlet.

Altman, who has accused Zhang of “playing games” in the past, seemed to grow frustrated with her yet again during Monday’s proceedings, after she remarked, “I don't know why I am here,” and claimed that she thought the trial had been canceled. Altman reportedly replied, “You know precisely why you are here.”

The question of a language barrier has also been a source of frustration for the judge. Zhang has previously refused to answer questions verbally, and seems to understand English at some points but at other times apparently needs the assistance of a translator, according to the Miami Herald.

“I know full well that you understand what I am saying to you both in English and in Mandarin,” Altman said to her during a hearing in August.

The issue arose again on Monday, after Zhang claimed that, because she hadn’t spoken Mandarin in months, she was struggling to understand her translator, NBC News reports.

“You speak Chinese - you are from China,” Altman reportedly replied.

Ten women and two men were eventually chosen to serve on the jury, according to CBS News. And in yet another bizarre turn of events, Zhang spent less than 30 seconds of her allotted time for an opening statement to address them.

“I don't believe I did anything wrong and that's what I want to say. USA, thank you,” she reportedly said.

Zhang, who has entered not guilty pleas in response to charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building and making false statements, could face up to six years in federal prison if convicted.

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