The White House is apparently trying to get to the bottom of how a comedian managed to get President Donald Trump on the phone claiming to be Sen. Robert Menendez. The comedian, John Melendez, is apparently as surprised as anyone that his sophomoric prank worked. “I am shocked … I mean we did this as a goof, I’m a comedian,” said Melendez, who is known as Stuttering John and is a regular guest on Howard Stern’s radio show. “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.”
So, how did he do it? Apparently it wasn’t very elaborate at all. He put on a bad British accent and posed as Sean Moore, who presented himself as Menendez’s assistant. The White House switchboard told him they’d call back and it wasn’t long before Jared Kushner was on the phone with Melendez. “Donald picks up the phone and I started talking to the President. I never said to Donald that I was Sen. Menendez. I was just talking in my Long Island accent. The thing is, you hear my bad Long Island accent and a voice that Donald has talked to so many times,” Melendez said.
Although the White House hasn’t confirmed the call, which was published as part of Melendez’s podcast, it also hasn’t denied it and is spinning the story as a downside of having a president who is eager to talk to lawmakers. “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 told CNN. The administration’s legislative affairs director Marc Short allegedly tried to reject the call at first but was later outranked by Kushner.
“Hi, Bob. How are you? Congratulations on everything, we’re proud of you,” the voice that appears to be Trump’s says in the recording. “Congratulations, great job. You went through a tough, tough situation, and I don’t think a very fair situation, but congratulations.”
Talking about immigration, the president simply espoused the same message he always does, saying lawmakers have the power to craft “a real immigration bill.” They also discussed the Supreme Court seat that will be left vacant when Anthony Kennedy retires.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the real Menendez seems a bit peeved that it’s easier for a comedian to get through to 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,“ Menendez said, “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. 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.”
Melendez tweeted Saturday that the Secret Service had paid him a visit but he didn’t answer the door. He later said he was at an “undisclosed location.” Melendez noted that it seems “Donald is more concerned with pursuing this legally as opposed as to firing his screening staff.”