A Secret Service agent admitted that he mistakenly “corrupted” his work computer by connecting a USB flash drive with suspected Chinese malware.
The Miami Herald reported that in a court hearing on Monday prosecutors said that Yujing Zhang, a Chinese national, had been taken into custody at Mar-a-Lago with nine USB drives, five SIM cards and a device to detect cameras. Zhang was also carrying $7,500 in U.S. currency and $663 in Chinese Yen.
“Prosecutors are treating the case as a national-security matter and an FBI counterintelligence squad is investigating,” the Herald noted.
The report went on to state that malware was found on the USB drives after a Secret Service agent plugged one into his computer.
Investigators are still trying to determine the nature of the malware Zhang allegedly brought into the club, the sources told the Herald. It is not clear how much of a threat the malware posed and whether it was intended to gather information at the president’s club or possibly to destroy an existing network or program.
Secret Service agent Samuel Ivanovich, who interviewed Zhang on the day of her arrest, testified at the hearing. He stated that when another agent put Zhang’s thumb-drive into his computer, it immediately began to install files, a “very out-of-the-ordinary” event that he had never seen happen before during this kind of analysis. The agent had to immediately stop the analysis to halt any further corruption of his computer, Ivanovich said. The analysis is ongoing but still inconclusive, he testified.
On Monday, the White House announced that Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles is being removed by President Donald Trump.
But officials have insisted that the director’s ouster was planned weeks ago, prior to the intrusion at Mar-a-Lago.