It appears to be a case, of if I push hard enough, with sufficient confidence, I will find an excuse which a human being will accept. She was very persistent indeed. But it also shows a number of bumbling errors too.
Her stories did not stack up? Why was she carrying a thumb drive? What was her intent? Who set her up? Was it a test? Did she really have the audacity to carry out it, before she was intercepted at the Reception Desk?
If she, knew her Thumb Drive was riddled Malware, wouldn't you use encryption or something else to reduce the likelihood that the malware would be found or hidden in a folder, which could not be easily discovered? She could have used the excuse, I am a Malware Investigator and I am carrying samples.... Be Aware.
A woman got into Mar-a-Lago despite not being on the access list, with no clear reason for being there, and carrying two different passports.
She was then investigated and arrested. She was found to be carrying a thumb drive which contained "malicious malware" according to the Secret Service. (In my career researching malware, I don't know how often I encountered benign malware ...)
Everyone seems to be horrified by this event. My reaction is a little bit different ...
In my career researching malware, all of my computers (except for one that recently had it's drive blown off and replaced) have zoos of malware on them. Crossing the US border, frequently, I did wonder what I should say when/if I ever got asked to submit my computer to a search. I know that "no" is not an option. "OK" might work. But I always wondered about "OK, but you should know that the machine you want to examine has malware on it, and anything you catch in examining it is your own fault ..."