A prank caller talking to the leader of the world's most powerful country aboard Air Force One? It's apparently possible.
Posing as New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, comedian John Melendez said he contacted President Donald Trump on Wednesday night while he was on the presidential plane.
Mr Melendez aired a recording of the conversation on his “The Stuttering John Podcast,” in which a voice that appears to be President Trump's can be heard.
“Hi, Bob. How are you? Congratulations on everything, we’re proud of you,” Trump is purported to say in the recording.
“You went through a tough, tough situation and I don't think a very fair situation,” he said to the “senator,” who was investigated for corruption before the charges were eventually dropped.
The two men then continued their conversation, moving from immigration to replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is set to retire from the US Supreme Court.
The comedian said he called the White House pretending to be an aide to the senator and was ultimately put in touch with the president on Air Force One, in a scenario that raises questions about protocol governing access to the commander in chief.
An operator took his message and accepted his explanation that his number was not the one in White House records because he was on vacation and using a different phone.
He then received a call from the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, before getting onto the phone with the American leader himself.
The White House issued a statement to CNN that did not refute Melendez’ account.
“The President wants to be accessible to members and likes engaging them and wants them to have the opportunity to connect,” a White House official said.
“The downside of that is sometimes the channels are open too widely and mistakes like this happen.”
Speaking to the US broadcaster, the comedian expressed disbelief that some longshot calls to the White House switchboard landed him on the phone with the president.
“I just could not believe that it took us an hour and a half to get Jared Kushner and Donald Trump on the phone from Air Force One,” he said.