The Chinese woman accused of illegally entering President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort with several electronic devices and then lying to the Secret Service about it is finally about to have her day in federal court -- but the bizarre case took an even stranger turn Monday when jury selection was interrupted by the defendant's lack of underwear.
Yujing Zhang stalled jury selection after appearing in court dressed in a brown jumpsuit instead of civilian clothes, claiming she wasn’t given any underwear. Dressing defendants in civilian clothing is common practice during trials to prevent jury prejudice.
The 33-year-old Shanghai business consultant was eventually taken to a holding cell, where she changed into a blouse and khaki pants that were found in her hotel room after Secret Service agents arrested her at the Florida club in March.
But Zhang’s issues began well before the jury selection.
Zhang fired her public defenders in June against the recommendation of U.S. District Judge Roy Altman in order to represent herself with the use of a translator. But during pretrial hearings, she at times appeared to struggle with answering simple questions in English, while replying with near-fluency at other times.
Zhang’s behavior at the hearings led Altman to repeatedly accuse the Chinese national of “playing games.”
Language became another issue Monday when Zhang claimed that she hadn’t spoken Mandarin in months and was finding it difficult to follow her interpreter.
She also told Altman “I don’t know why I am here,” claiming she wasn’t prepared because she thought the trial had been canceled. Altman previously ordered Zhang’s public defenders to provide her with law books to study while examining the evidence.
Secret Service agents arrested Zhang after she tried to enter the Florida club on March 30. Agents said they found her carrying a computer, cellphones and other electronics. She also had a signal detector meant to spot hidden cameras and a significant amount of cash stashed in her area hotel room.
Agents initially said a thumb drive in her possession contained malware, but later recanted that accusation.
While Zhang isn’t charged with espionage, prosecutors have filed secret evidence under seal that they say has national security implications.
Zhang has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful entry and making false statements. She faces up to six years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted. She has been held without bond.
Her former public defenders are on standby, sitting in the gallery behind her, in case she changes her mind about acting as her own attorney.
While they have said Zhang appeared mentally competent, she's refused to speak with a psychologist. Relatives in China told them she has no mental health problems.
Fox News' Greg Norman, Travis Fedschun and Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.