Donald Trump returned a prank phone call from a comedian pretending to be a senator, during a journey back to Washington on Air Force One.
Veteran performer John Melendez, who regularly appears on Howard Stern and Jay Leno’s shows, published a podcast that includes a recording of a three-minute conversation during which he pretended to be Senator Robert Menendez.
The voice said to be Mr Trump’s can be heard saying: “Hi, Bob. How are you? Congratulations on everything, we’re proud of you.”
In reference to a five-year corruption investigation in which charges were dropped against Mr Menendez, the president says: “You went through a tough, tough situation and I don’t think a very fair situation.”
Mr Menendez is a Democratic senator from New Jersey who has campaigned for immigration reform in the US.
Immigration was briefly discussed, with Mr Trump saying: “I want to be able to take care of the situation every bit as much as anybody else at the top level. I’d rather do the larger solution rather than the smaller solution.”
The comedian also tells the president to choose a US supreme court nominee who is not too conservative.
Mr Trump responded by saying he had a “big list of people” and would announce a nominee in the next 12 to 14 days.
Melendez said he was shocked that he had his call returned.
“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.
Melendez and his producer phoned the White House and asked to speak to the president. After being refused under his own name, he tried again by faking a British accent and claiming to be the assistant to Mr Menendez.
The operator took a message, even though Melendez and his producer could be heard giggling.
Later, the comedian received a phone call from the switchboard asking for confirmation of the senator’s phone number as the one he was calling from did not match the number they had on record.
Melendez said this was because he was on holiday and subsequently received a call from Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner before the call from Mr Trump.
In a statement, the White House said: “The president wants to be accessible to members and likes engaging them and wants them to have the opportunity to connect.
“The downside of that is sometimes the channels are open too widely and mistakes like this happen.”
Congressman Gerry Connolly told CNN it was “a very chilling thing to contemplate”.
“I flew on Air Force One with President Obama… and their security systems are supposed to be pretty tight,” he said. “There’s a whole protocol for making phone calls and receiving phone calls.”
“I’m shocked this was able to get through, and it really does raise questions about what kind of security filter do we have on Air Force One, presumably the most secure set of communications in the world?”