Comedian brags he posed as senator, pranked Trump into returning call from Air Force One

John Melendez, right, said he was able to fool President Trump and his aides into taking a phone call from him on Wednesday night. Melendez posed as Sen. Bob Menendez.
Caption
John Melendez, right, said he was able to fool President Trump and his aides into taking a phone call from him on Wednesday night. Melendez posed as Sen. Bob Menendez.

Credit: Frazer Harrison

Credit: Frazer Harrison

A comedian known as "Stuttering John" apparently pranked the president into taking a telephone call on Air Force One recently, the Huffington Post reported.

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John Melendez, a longtime personality on Howard Stern's radio show, apparently posed as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Melendez left his cellphone number with the White House switchboard and duped several aides -- including the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner -- the New York Post reported.

"Hi, Bob. How are you? Congratulations on everything, we're proud of you. Congratulations, you're doing a great job," Trump is heard saying in a podcast Melendez recorded Wednesday and then posted online Thursday.

One hour into the podcast, Melendez is heard speaking to Trump about his immigration policy and his upcoming pick for the vacant post in the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I am shocked ... I mean we did this as a goof, I'm a comedian," Melendez told CNN. "I just could not believe that it took us an hour and a half to get Jared Kushner and Donald Trump on the phone from Air Force One.

"All they had to ask me is what party affiliation is Sen. Menendez, or what state is he a senator of, and I would not have known. But they didn't ask me any of this.”

"Believe me, if it was that easy to dupe him, there's every chance in the world (Russian President Vladimir) Putin duped him," Melendez told the Huffington Post, which reported that it could not independently confirm that Trump was the person speaking on the podcast.

Politico, citing a source in the White House, said the administration "has been scrambling" to "figure out how this happened."

Melendez said he gave his cellphone number to the White House switchboard but it has a Southern California prefix. An operator told the comedian the number did not match White House records for Menendez, the Post reported. Melendez said he was on vacation and was using a different phone, the newspaper reported.

“You went through a tough, tough situation — and I don’t think a very fair situation — but congratulations,” Trump is heard on the podcast.

"The President wants to be accessible to members and likes engaging them and wants them to have the opportunity to connect. The downside of that is sometimes the channels are open too widely and mistakes like this happen," a White House official said, CNN reported.

Menendez was indicted on bribery and corruption charges in 2015. He issued a statement saying he would appreciate a real conversation with the President.

“As someone who has spent my entire career trying to convince Republicans to join me in reforming our nation’s broken immigration system, I welcome any opportunity to have a real conversation with the President on how to uphold the American values that guided our family-based immigration policy for the past century,” Menendez said in the statement. “Tearing children apart from their mothers is not part of our proud history. Thus far, this White House has only sabotaged every good-faith effort to find bipartisan common ground on immigration.”

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