US & Canada

Donald Trump gets prank call on Air Force One

President Donald Trump speaks to the press on board Air Force One en route to New Jersey, June 29, 2018 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Trump spoke to a prank comedian while on board Air Force One

US President Donald Trump was fooled by a comedian into taking a prank call while on board Air Force One.

Comedian John Melendez posed as Senator Bob Menendez. He says he spoke to the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and received a call back from Mr Trump.

Mr Melendez said he claimed to be Senator Menendez and a fake assistant.

"Sometimes the [President's] channels are open too widely and mistakes like this happen," a White House official told CNN.

Senator Menendez is a Democratic senator from New Jersey and a long-time campaigner for immigration reform.

The US government has come under fire in recent weeks over its policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border with Mexico.

Mr Melendez, who goes by the stage name Stuttering John, recorded his conversations with the US president and uploaded on his podcast.

On the recording, the voice that is purportedly Mr Trump congratulates Mr Menendez for his 2017 acquittal in a bribery case.

He was accused of accepting gifts from a Florida eye doctor in exchange for political influence.

The two voices on Mr Melendez's podcast recording also talked about the Supreme Court vacancy following Anthony Kennedy's decision to step down next month.

The voice said to be Mr Trump says he will nominate a new judge to the Supreme Court in "10 to 14 days".

When the White House made inquiries with Mr Menendez's office about the conversation Mr Trump thought he had with him on Thursday, the senator's staff were befuddled, US media report.

The prank caller said that his plan could have easily gone wrong.

"All they had to ask me is what party affiliation is Senator Menendez, or what state is he a senator of, and I would not have known. But they didn't ask me any of this," Mr Melendez told CNN.

Expect the unexpected

Tara McKelvey, White House reporter

The prank call to the president made people laugh, and showed again the ramshackle nature of the Trump White House. I was flying with the president on Air Force One the night he took the call from Melendez, and I'm not surprised he got through.

The fact that Mr Menendez was able to circumvent the president's aides makes sense, since they often don't know who he's planning to speak to. This president will see someone at a moment's notice, throwing his aides off guard.

His unpredictable nature makes his days lively, but it also exposes him to risk and embarrassment. He seems to runs the White House like a reality show. Sometimes events come together, sometimes they don't.

Speaking to a prankster was one that didn't turn out so well. But people will forget: soon he'll do something else unexpected, and they'll be talking about that.

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