A second foreign national is being investigated by US authorities for accessing Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Florida resort, which is at the center of an FBI probe into classified documents missing, heightening fears about security breaches during and after his presidency.
According to an article of the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty is under investigation by the bureau after infiltrating the private members’ club under a false pretense.
Inna Yashchyshyn, 33, allegedly lied to members that she was a Rothschild heiress and mingled with Trump, US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others at Mar-a-Lago functions.
OCCRP, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Gazette, reported that Yashchyshyn demonstrated “the ease with which someone with a false identity and obscure background” could circumvent Trump’s club security.
Earlier this month, the FBI obtained a warrant for search for Mar-a-Lago as part of a criminal investigation into the unauthorized withholding of government secrets by Trump and his aides, who failed to return the documents in question despite repeated requests.
On Saturday, Congressmen Adam Schiff and Carolyn Maloney — respectively, the chairs of the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees — says the director of US intelligenceAvril Haines, had confirmed that her subordinates, along with the Department of Justice, would assess whether the improper storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago had risked or caused damage to national security.
The search came a month after the heads of the FBI and Britain’s internal security service MI5 issued a stern warning on the systemic challenges posed to Western economies and governments by Chinese espionage.
Yashchyshyn – the daughter of an Illinois truck driver – has argued she is a Rothschild heiress while serving as president of United Hearts of Mercy, founded by Florida-based Russian oligarch Valery Tarasenko in Canada in 2015.
The OCCRP and the Post-Gazette reported that “the FBI office in Miami and the provincial police of the Sûreté du Québec in Canada have launched investigations which touch on his relations”.
While the FBI declined to comment, its Canadian counterpart confirmed that its major crimes unit launched an investigation into Yashchyshyn earlier this year.
News of the Yashchyshyn investigation comes three years after a Chinese national approached a Secret Service agent outside Mar-a-Lago and claimed to be a member who wanted to use the pool. After passing through the checkpoint, Yujing Zhang told a receptionist that she was there to attend an event organized by the United Nations Sino-American Association.
But no such event was on the calendar, and agents found later that she was carrying two Chinese passports, $8,000 in cash, four cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive, a USB stick containing malware – but no swimsuit.
She also claimed she spoke poor English, although officers later testified that Zhang spoke and read English well.
Zhang was charged with making false statements to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area. Zhang was later sentenced to eight months in prison and deported to China after being found guilty of trespassing and lying to Secret Service agents.
Club security breaches involving Zhang and Yashchyshyn for some remember a episode at the start of Trump’s presidency, where he spoke with then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a patio about a response to a missile test in North Korea as diners watched.
In a particularly stunning moment, a guest who snapped a photo of Trump and Abe then took a selfie with a military aide carrying the black leather satchel containing the codes needed to launch a nuclear strike, dubbed “the football.”
“This is unheard of,” a deputy national security adviser to Joe Biden in Barack Obama’s White House said at the time. “These people operate behind the scenes.
I don’t think this team understands the vulnerabilities they are creating for themselves and how dangerous it is.
Trump’s White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, later insisted that no classified information was discussed and that the leaders’ discussions focused on the logistics of statements to the press they had to do.
Abe, who left office in 2020, was murdered while giving a campaign speech in the Japanese city of Nara last month in an unrelated case.
New details about the FBI’s search for Mar-a-Lago emerged on Friday when a heavily redacted affidavit justifying the search explained how investigators believed highly sensitive national defense information and evidence of obstruction of justice was on the property of the ex-president.
The document detailed how an FBI review of documents Trump returned to the National Archives in May 2022 concluded that he kept sensitive government secrets at Mar-a-Lago.
The Department of Justice said that of the documents recovered by the National Archives, 184 had ranking markings. Some were marked “SI” for special intelligence, “HCS” for intelligence from clandestine human sources and “NOFORN” for “not available to foreign nationals”.