Police are investigating a possible trespassing incident at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private South Florida club.
“There’s an ongoing investigation right now, and we’re working on it,” said Michael Ogrodnick, a spokesman for the Palm Beach Police Department, when asked whether police had responded to a Mar-a-Lago trespassing complaint. “We will let you know as soon as we have something, which should be soon.”
The police were called to the property Wednesday. Ogrodnick would not comment on what they were investigating.
A receptionist at Mar-a-Lago declined to comment Wednesday. So did the White House. The Trump Organization, the president’s private company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Secret Service also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it does not provide security for the club on days when the president is not in town. Trump spent the day in Washington, D.C., and will appear at a political rally in Michigan Wednesday evening.
He recently tweeted that he would be spending the winter holidays at the club, which he called “the Southern White House.” The president is a frequent visitor and Mar-a-Lago, located in the island town of Palm Beach, remains one of the crown jewels of his business empire. It is scheduled to host a gala for the conservative group Turning Point USA Wednesday evening, featuring Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump Jr., among others.
Security breaches have happened before at Mar-a-Lago, raising fears of potential national-security threats.
Earlier this year, federal authorities arrested Yujing Zhang, 33, for unlawfully entering the club. Zhang, a Chinese national, was convicted of entering a restricted area and lying to a federal agent. The Secret Service originally said she was carrying a thumb drive loaded with “malicious malware,” but Zhang did not face any espionage-related charges. She currently awaits deportation.
While the exclusive club is members-only, the public can buy tickets to charity galas and other events held there during Palm Beach society’s winter high season. That open access has led Mar-a-Lago to become the focal point of an industry dubbed “Trump Tourism,” which markets itself to people trying to get close to the president.
Chinese tourists in particular became regulars at the club after Trump’s election, showing up to events there in increasing numbers. Many bought their tickets through Cindy Yang, a South Florida massage-parlor owner who reinvented herself by selling access to the club. Yang took several photos with the president at events and used them to advertise her business. She had helped arrange the event Zhang sought to attend before her arrest.
Even before Zhang’s intrusion, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami were investigating possible Chinese spying in South Florida, including at Mar-a-Lago.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Miami Herald staff writers Jay Weaver and David Smiley contributed to this report.