CNN: Mar-a-Lago Breach Evidence Trump Administration Loose With U.S. Secrets

On Tuesday, we learned of a Saturday incident at President Trump’s Mara-a-Lago resort where the Secret Service’s apparent incompetence struck again when a Chinese national managed to bluff her way past them only to be stopped by the receptionist. But according to a discussion of national security and cybersecurity experts on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, it was somehow indicative of an administration that played fast and loose with America’s national security secrets.

CNN national security analyst and former Obama official Juliette Kayyem was curious about the sloppy nature of the apparent espionage operation and wondered if it might have been “a statement by a country or corporation” who knew the Trump administration wasn’t good at defending national security.

[E]very story this week has been about security clearances, about the openness of secrets and accessibility by our enemies, and sort of disappointment by allies who know how clumsy the White House in its giving security clearances to people who don't know,” Kayyem suggested.

She added: “So, I think all of the stories are connected, which is essentially a door wide open, is what the White House is telling to our enemies, about the secrets of the United States and our national security.

Burnett then turned to former federal prosecutor and cybersecurity expert Jack Weiss who also tied the breach to the unrelated security clearance story, declaring, “the front doors and back doors open to this administration.

Weiss also speculated that this woman was not the first to breach Mar-a-Lago security:

So, I make of it what Juliette and Bob make of it. I would add, okay, if she is clumsy how many people have gotten into Mar-a-Lago over the past two years who weren't as clumsy. It's stunning how far she got in. And so, my suspicion is she’s not the first. And Juliette’s right. This was a week with the security clearance issue.

 

 

In a previous appearance on her show, Burnett introduced Weiss as “also a former Democratic member of the Los Angeles City Council.” That was absent from Tuesday’s introduction, which would show a possible political motivation for his claims against the Trump administration.

“Well, this has been a big concern, Bob, is Mar-a-Lago and the susceptibility to foreign influence, right all the people. You pay your money, you become a member of the club,” Burnett teed up former CIA officer Robert Baer.

Baer claimed that Mar-a-Lago was the place to go “if you want to get to the President.” He proceeded to argue that every hostile power understood that Mar-a-Lago was the place to go to uncover America’s secrets:

And everybody knows that from the Russians to the Chinese, any hostile intelligence service, if you want the President's secret, go to Mar-a-Lago. Whether it was somebody who owns a massage parlor or somebody with malware, go to Mar-a-Lago, you did get all the secrets you need. Don't try it at the White House which is well protected.

Meanwhile, there were 10 security breaches at the White House during the Obama years, included a 2009 incident where a couple “finesse[d] their way through a security checkpoint staffed by uniformed Secret Service officers…” In March of 2017, a man made it on to the White House grounds and roamed around “for more than 15 minutes before he is discovered and arrested by a Secret Service officer near the south entrance.” And that's only a sampling of the jaw-dropping breaches of White House security.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront
April 2, 2019
7:03:45 p.m. Eastern

(…)

ERIN BURNETT: So Bob, what does this look like to you.

ROBERT BAER: It looks like a Chinese operation, the fact she came from Shanghai, as you know, the Chinese would send her from Shanghai. Republic of China passports. They use those all the time to deflect suspicion in an operation like this. It clearly, Erin, was very clumsy but normal people don't carry four cell phones and malware with them, especially going into what's essentially, you know the White House in Florida.

(…)

JULIETTE KAYYEM: I think the only question I have now is essentially why does it look clumsy? I'm always curious when things look really clumsy. Did they intend for her to get caught? Was this a statement by a country or corporation knowing how open Mar-a-Lago is, knowing that the Trump administration has not been good at -- every story this week has been about security clearances, about the openness of secrets and accessibility by our enemies, and sort of disappointment by allies who know how clumsy the White House in its giving security clearances to people who don't know.

So, I think all of the stories are connected, which is essentially a door wide open, is what the White House is telling to our enemies, about the secrets of the United States and our national security.

BURNETT: I mean, Jack when you look at what she had, four cell phones laptop, external hard drive, thumb drive which had malicious malware on it, what do you make of all of that? Whether this was clumsy or not.

JACK WEISS: Well the only thing she didn't have a bathing suit and she said she was going swimming.

BURNETT: Right.

WEISS: So, I make of it what Juliette and Bob make of it. I would add, okay, if she is clumsy how many people have gotten into Mar-a-Lago over the past two years who weren't as clumsy. It's stunning how far she got in. And so, my suspicion is she’s not the first. And Juliette’s right. This was a week with the security clearance issue. We see the front doors and back doors open to this administration.

BURNETT: Well, this has been a big concern, Bob, is Mar-a-Lago and the susceptibility to foreign influence, right all the people. You pay your money, you become a member of the club.

BAER: Well, exactly. And we know we talked about this Erin, if you want to get to the President you go to Mar-a-Lago. You can get around the Secret Service because it's a private place. And everybody knows that from the Russians to the Chinese, any hostile intelligence service, if you want the President's secret, go to Mar-a-Lago. Whether it was somebody who owns a massage parlor or somebody with malware, go to Mar-a-Lago, you did get all the secrets you need. Don't try it at the White House which is well protected.

(…)

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