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Chinese Businesswoman Found Guilty of Trespassing at Mar-a-Lago

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Prosecutors said a stream of text messages showed that Ms. Zhang knew the event she purportedly was to attend at Mar-a-Lago had been canceled, which prosecutors said raised questions about her motive for making the trip. Her Beijing contact, she said, had suggested that she go instead to an event featuring Bill and Hillary Clinton, or to another with Warren Buffett.

“You can meet with these famous people,” the contact wrote, according to the English translation of the texts, introduced in court. “You can stand between them and have your photo taken.”

“I’m not going,” she wrote back on March 27, after hearing that the Mar-a-Lago event was off. “Forget it,” she wrote in another text shortly afterward, referring to the trip.

And yet later that same day, prosecutors said, she bought a plane ticket to the United States — paying more than $2,000 in cash — booked a room at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach and, once there, made her way to Mr. Trump’s club.

The trial in Fort Lauderdale, at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, focused exclusively on the narrow questions of whether Ms. Zhang trespassed on restricted property and whether she lied to Secret Service agents about why she was there. It did not look at whether she was potentially engaging in espionage — a question that was debated widely in the news media after her arrest.

As the trial started to wind down on Tuesday afternoon, the judge asked Ms. Zhang whether she planned to deliver a closing argument in her defense. “Um, I’m not ready,” she replied.

“You’re going to have to get ready,” Judge Roy Altman said, with mild impatience.

In his closing argument, Assistant United States Attorney Rolando Garcia told jurors that “anyone with any sense would have known” that Mar-a-Lago was a restricted, highly protected place, especially when the president was in residence. But such impediments did not deter the defendant, Mr. Garcia said.



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