Somehow, a comedian pretending to be Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) managed to get a call back from Donald Trump, and the White House is utterly baffled as to how such a security breach could have occurred, relatively unimpeded.
The comedian John Melendez, AKA “Stuttering John,” called the White House switchboard pretending to be an aide for the New Jersey senator. After several rounds of messages, the president returned Melendez’s call under the impression that the comedian was Bob Menendez. (And yes, all of this is made particularly confusing by the fact that their last names are extremely similar.)
Melendez, who is a regular guest on shock jock Howard Stern’s radio show, included what seems to be a recording of his conversation with Trump in an episode of his podcast.
“Hi Bob. How are you, congratulations on everything, we’re proud of you. Congratulations, you’re doing a great job,” a voice which supposedly belongs to Trump can be heard saying. “You went through a tough, tough situation — and I don’t think a very fair situation — but congratulations.” (Trump was referring to Menendez’s past indictment on corruption charges, which were ultimately dismissed.)
When Melendez (posing as Menendez) asked Trump about his immigration plan going forward, Trump essentially spat out a load of nonsense.
“So Bob, let me just tell you: I want to be able to take care of the situation every bit as much as anyone else, at the top level … I’d like to do the larger solution rather than the smaller solution; they’re doing them step by step. I think we can do the whole thing.” (???)
“I have a good relationship with the party, you have a good relationship with the party, and I think we could do a real immigration bill,” Trump says. “We have to have security at the border, we have to have it. I mean, look, you’ve got 60 percent of the country, they’ve got to have security at the border.”
“And that’s a good excuse for the Democrats too, Bob. It’s not like, it’s good for you or good for me, it’s good for both of us … I’m tired of the problem. So Bob, here’s what — let me do this, I’m on Air Force One, uh, I’m just coming back from an amazing rally in North Dakota, actually.”
When Melendez asked about Trump’s short list for a Supreme Court nomination, Trump hedged but replied that the decision would be made over the course of the next two weeks.
“I have a list of people, I have a big list of people Bob, and we’ll take a look and it and we’re gonna make a decision, I’ll probably make it over the next couple of weeks.”
“Well, we will talk to you about it — we’re probably going to make a decision Bob, over the next two weeks, I think we’re gonna have a really good … we have some great choices. [It’ll] be done over the next 12-14 days.”
“You take care, I will speak to you soon Bob, take care of yourself. Thank you Bob, I will talk to you soon.”
Of course, many outlets were hesitant to report on this story, since it certainly seems like the sort of encounter that Melendez could fake.
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
While POLITICO has been unable to confirm the veracity of this story, their White House reporter Annie Karni tweeted on Friday that the White House “has been scrambling this morning to figure out how this happened.”
Ironic that the Trump administration is so concerned with the security at our borders when they should probably be running a tighter ship in their own offices.