Trump apparently duped by prank phone call

Toluse Olorunnipa

President Donald Trump appeared to return a call from a prankster posing as New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Bob Menendez during an Air Force One flight earlier this week, calling into question the White House’s security protocols.

Radio DJ Stuttering John Melendez appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in this March 7, 2003, file photo. President Donald Trump appeared to return a call from Melendez, posing as New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, during an Air Force One flight earlier this week.

Audio of an exchange with Trump and the pranksters was posted online by “The Stuttering John Podcast” and features the president speaking with a comedian, who pretends to be Menendez. In a three-minute conversation, the two men discussed the Supreme Court, the debacle over immigrant family separations and Menendez’s corruption trial.

The White House did not refute the authenticity of the audio, and declined to comment.

Trump told the man posing as Menendez that he planned to make a decision on his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat held by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy within the next two weeks.

“We’re going to probably make a decision, Bob, over the next two weeks,” Trump said during the call, which appears to have taken place on Wednesday night as the president flew from North Dakota to Wisconsin. Podcast host John Melendez posted the audio online and said it showed how easy it was to get through to the president.

Immigration Question

Asked about the families that had been separated at the border under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, the president said he was hoping to bring Democrats and Republicans together on a comprehensive legislative solution.

“I think we could do a real immigration bill,” Trump said. “We have to have security and peace at the border. We have to have it.”

He also appeared to congratulate Menendez for successfully winning a legal battle with federal prosecutors.

“Congratulations. Great job,” Trump said. “You went through a tough, tough situation. And not, I think, a very fair situation but congratulations.”

U.S. prosecutors recently decided to drop their corruption case against Menendez after a trial ended in a deadlocked jury.

It’s not clear how Melendez was able to get through to the president or what security protocols are set up to protect the White House from unscrupulous callers. Melendez, who posed as an aide to Menendez, said he was able to speak with senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

“I find it astounding that the news media’s not picking up the fact that I totally duped the President & got in touch within in less than 2 hours while he was on Air Force One,” Melendez said in a tweet.