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Recent trespassing incidents raise questions about security at Mar-a-Lago

Posted at 6:27 AM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 08:27:31-05

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Security at Mar-a-Lago has been in the spotlight after two Chinese nationals were arrested in separate incidents this year – one in March and another in December.

So, what measures are in place at President Donald Trump's winter White House?

Author Ronald Kessler is a frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago, who has written books about Trump's tenure in the White House and the Secret Service. He says he knows the club is secure.

"If Trump wants to look at classified material. He looks at it in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), which protects against electronic intrusions in the basement," Kessler said.

The recent incidents of trespassers at the club have raised concerns about security, including a Chinese woman lying her way past agents in the spring and then another Chinese woman intruding on the grounds two days before a presidential visit in December.

"You're in a tough position with Mar-a-Lago. It is a public place, a semi-public place. Unless you want to put it on lockdown and have Marines frisking everyone going in, you can't have real security," said Lisa Ruth, a former CIA analyst.

When the president is there, Kessler says the Secret Service runs the show — isolating the president even among members.

"Even if you get into the estate itself, and you are near Trump and Melania dining at Mar-a-Lago, there's a rope around their table and the Secret Service maintains this perimeter where even members cannot go near him unless he motions for them to come over," Kessler said.

He adds that even if a visitor or intruder were to plant a bug or listening device, Secret Service agents have many detection devices constantly turned on to detect such a device.

This story was originally published by Matt Sczesny on WPTV in Palm Beach, Florida.