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How a Comedian Managed to Impersonate a Senator and Talk With President Trump

D’oh! Photo: The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Last week, comedian John Melendez — perhaps best known for his work on The Howard Stern Show — posted a series of tweets that outlined how he managed to have a phone conversation with President Trump while pretending to be Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey. Melendez’s account has since been verified by numerous news outlets, as he claimed Jared Kushner personally patched the call through while Trump was on Air Force One.

Now, in an interview with THR, Melendez dove into how he managed to dupe the White House, which began when he impersonated an assistant for Menendez. Earlier in the day, he called asking for Trump using his real identity, but the staff shut his request down. “I call back with the worst English accent known to man and say, ‘Hello this is Shawn Moore calling from the Senator Bob Menendez.’ And they said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Sean as in Connery, Moore as in Roger, I’m a big Bond fan.’ As soon as I said, ‘I’m a big Bond fan,’ you would think they would imagine, wait, he didn’t pick his own name, that doesn’t make any sense. But they continue, and I said, ‘The senator would like to talk to the president.’ Then they said they’re going to call me back.”

Shortly after this first call, Melendez says, the White House staff called him back to inquire why his phone number’s area code wasn’t from New Jersey. “I said, ‘Oh, it’s 818 it’s because we’re on holiday.’ And they go, ‘Okay,’” he said. “I’m saying I’m on holiday and they’re buying that as an excuse, like as if your cell phone area code changes in whatever state you’re in. So they go, ‘We’ll have somebody call you.’ ”

But it was the next call Melendez received when he realized his prank would actually be a success, as Kushner now became involved:

[T]he person on the other line said “All right, this is Jared Kushner, we’re trying to get in touch with Senator Menendez. What does the senator want to talk about?” And I go, “We had a long conversation with the president about immigration two or three weeks ago, he just wants some closure on it.” And he goes, “All right, I can pull him out of a meeting on Air Force One right now, or he can call you back.” And I go, “No, please call me back” because I know that I have to call my friend in New York to record it.

And lo and behold, Melendez soon received a call from Air Force One and was talking with the president about immigration and the Supreme Court. “He does not even realize that you have a guy who’s not nearly as articulate as Senator Bob Mendendez, with a bad Long Island accent, and a voice that you would think he would know,” he explained. “At the very end, I did something from the old Stern show, but he didn’t recognize it.” From his initial call to the White House to finishing his call with Trump, Melendez said the process took about two hours, which prompted a visit from the Secret Service at his home in California. “I think I did Donald Trump a service by exposing how inadequate his screening staff is,” he added. “And if Jared Kushner was not married to his daughter, he’d be gone.”

How President Trump Was Pranked Over the Phone by a Comedian