June 29, 2018
Comedian John Melendez apparently prank called President Donald Trump and recorded it for his podcast while the president was on Air Force One by posing as New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
Melendez, known for his work as a former sideman to Howard Stern, posted a recording of the phone conversation and his journey through White House staffers on his podcast "Stuttering John" that seemingly backs up his claim. You can hear what appears to be a several-minute conversation between Melendez, posing as the Democratic U.S. senator, and Trump.
The supposed conversation appears to get into immigration policy, the policy of separating families at the border and the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
No news outlets have confirmed the authenticity of the recording. The White House has yet to comment.
There is only speculation into how the call apparently made it all the way to the president. Politico reported a person inside the White House confirmed staff is "scrambling" to figure out how the call happened — alleging the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner patched it through.
More on sloppy protocol: Legislative affairs was notified of call, checked with Mendendez COS, who said he was not trying to reach POTUS. Leg affairs said kill the call. It was patched through, however, reportedly by Kushner. https://t.co/OnLDLmUK7t— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) June 29, 2018
On the call, Trump allegedly congratulates "Menendez" — remember, that is not who is actually on the phone — for something, but for what is not exactly clear. The senior senator from New Jersey was indicted by the Department of Justice in 2015 on federal corruption charges related to bribery and fraud. The case eventually ended in a mistrial, and most recently in 2018, Menendez was admonished in a letter from the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.
"How are you? Congratulations on everything, we're proud of you," Trump supposedly says. "You went through a tough, tough situation, and I don't think a very fair situation. But congratulations."
The conversation eventually turns toward immigration, as prankster Melendez appears to asks Trump what he can tell his "constituents" about the administration's policy moving forward on immigration. Trump says, "I think we can do a real immigration bill. We have to have security at the border."
The president then gets to the separation of families at the U.S. border with Mexico, saying "It's not like it's good for you or good for me. ... People are tired, you know, of the problem."
Melendez tweeted on Thursday, saying he found it "astounding" the media had not yet picked up the story.
"I gave them a news story on their laps," he tweeted.
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. Shame on, NBC/, CNN & Huffington Post. I gave them a news story on their laps.— John Melendez (@stutteringjohnm) June 29, 2018
“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 HuffPost.