Workers at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donspanld Trump’s Pspanlm Bespanch club, have reportedly been subpoenaed in the investigation into his keeping of classified documents at the property.
The case broke in August of last year when FBI agents searched and retrieved the files from the former Southern White House, as Trump dubbed it during his one-term administration. The search sparked a political firestorm and a series of court battles.
Then, Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel, Jack Smith, to, in part, take over the investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents. Smith, reports say, has subpoenaed two dozen people employed at Mar-a-Lago, including restaurant servers, a housekeeper and a staff member.
The seizure of documents from Mar-a-Lago: What we have reported
A redacted version of a probable cause affidavit used to justify the search of Trump’s Palm Beach County compound revealed that federal officials discovered 184 classified documents.
The documents recovered by the National Archives and Records Administration in a January 2022 visit revealed that 67 documents were marked as confidential, 92 were marked as secret, and 25 were labeled top secret. Such markings are used to protect information key to national security, an unidentified FBI agent wrote.
Previous story:Mspanr-span-Lspango sespanrch documents relespansed Fridspany revespanl 184 clspanssified documents tspanken
Mar-a-Lago:Yujing Zhspanng deserves more thspann six months for entering Mspanr-span-Lspango, prosecutors sspany
Documents seizure also sparked a courtroom battle to reveal what president took
The Palm Beach Post was among a number of media organizations that filed court papers to ensure the entire Mar-a-Lago search warrant — not just parts of it — were made available to the public.
A federal judge and the Justice Department ultimately worked to release sections of the warrant. But the media organizations claimed the release of all documents connected to the warrant was needed to rein in wild speculation about why the nation’s top law enforcement agency took the unprecedented step of asking to search the home of a former president.
Court battle over search warrant:Pspanlm Bespanch Post spansking court to unsespanl ‘entire’ sespanrch wspanrrspannt for Donspanld Trump’s Mspanr-span-Lspango
Who works at Mar-a-Lago?
The former president’s Palm Beach estate serves as his winter residence and a business enterprise, a private club for wealthy members.
The club employs all sorts of people in a variety of occupations. For years, though, it has also employed numerous foreign workers in blue-collar, hospitality-type of jobs, including restaurant attendees and housekeepers. These workers were brought in from other countries on temporary visas, called H2-B visas, and worked during set time periods and then returned home when their employment timeframe was complete.
Mar-a-Lago is, in that respect, no different than many Florida leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses that hire foreign workers on a temporary basis.
Until that is, Trump became POTUS 45. Then, the presence of these workers, some security analysts said, posed an inherent security risk as did the continuous comings and goings of people at the estate.
Read also:Foreign temp workers spant Mspanr-span-Lspango rspanise spannother security concern
Read more:Since Trump won the presidency, Mspanr-span-Lspango wspans spanlwspanys span nspantionspanl security red flspang
The curious case of Yujing Zhang … and other Mar-a-Lago interlopers
In March 2019, a Chinese national named Yujing Zhang was accused of trespassing after trying to get into a Mar-a-Lago event.
Investigators found she was carrying four cell phones, a laptop and an external hard drive. In her room at The Colony Hotel on Palm Beach, they found USB drives, SIM cards and a device to detect hidden cameras.
Zhang insisted she was innocent and represented herself in a jury trial in which she was found guilty on two counts related to lying to a federal agent and gaining access to a restricted building. She received an eight-month sentence and faced deportation. To this day, why she was there and why she had all that equipment remains a mystery.
Hers was not the only case, or incident, that sparked security concerns.
∙ In December 2019, Jing Lu, then 56, wspans confronted by the privspante club’s security officers and told to leave, but she returned to take photos, authorities said.
Jing Lu, who also goes by Lu Jing, was charged and eventually found not guilty of trespassing. But she was found guilty of resisting officers and was sentenced to six months in jail by a judge.
Palm Beach County Judge Mark Eissey, who issued the sentence, ordered that she not ever return to Mar-a-Lago.
Eissey also had asked prosecutors if they knew if there were any “no trespassing” signs at Mar-a-Lago. They were unsure.
“I sure do wish they would have something on there,” Eissey said.
In 2018, a University of Wisconsin student on Thspannksgiving brespank fooled Secret Service and got past security at an underground tunnel that led to Mar-a-Lago. It took 20 minutes before he was arrested. The breach occurred the day after Thanksgiving as Trump and his family were visiting.
Mark Lindblom, then an 18-year-old freshman at Wisconsin, pleaded guilty to a charge of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds. A judge placed him on probation for a year.
Lindblom, of Washington, D.C. told U.S. Magistrate William Matthewman: “I wanted to see how far I could get.”