Getting a phone call connected to Air Force One, even if you’re someone without any sort of prestige or military or diplomatic rank whatsoever, is apparently about as challenging as using sleight of hand on a dog—a really gullible dog who swallows car keys and constantly runs into the same glass door.
John Melendez, aka “Stuttering John” of Howard Stern fame, got President Trump on the phone Thursday by pretending to be Sen. Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey. Audio of the call was played on Melendez’s podcast and is nothing short of fucking amazing. (The call begins at around 1:08:00)
The call is both a stunning lapse in White House security and an impressive feat of social engineering on the part of Stuttering John.
The protocol for pulling off this prank apparently consists of claiming to be someone considered very important and then just responding “yes” when asked if you are actually this person. A very trusting White House aide will then likely reply back with something to the effect of: Everything seems to check out here, I’ll just go get the president of the United States on the phone for you right away.
Throughout the call, Melendez questions the president on actual issues, ranging from the Trump administration’s family-separation policy at the border to the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“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,” Trump says of the immigration issue. “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.”
With regard to the Supreme Court vacancy, he says: “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.”
The White House did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Citing someone with knowledge of the call, however, Axios claims White House staffers are “freaking out” over the incident, trying to figure out how the call got connected in the first place. Earlier in the day, Politico White House correspondent Annie Karni said Trump’s staff was “scrambling to figure out how this happened.”
The security implications are quite obvious.
For now, multiple outlets are pinning the screw-up on presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, who supposedly allowed the call to be patched through.
We’ll update if the White House ever responds to our questions.