Further concerns have been raised over the lack of security measures surrounding the US president's phone after Donald Trump took a prank call from a comedian, believing him to be Senator Bob Menendez.
John Melendez, known by his comedy moniker of Stuttering John, posted audio of a phone call he received from Trump on Wednesday evening after persuading the White House that he was the New Jersey democrat.
Trump returned Melendez's call while on Air Force One on the way back from "an amazing" rally in North Dakota. He congratulated whom he believed to be the senator on the Justice Department dismiss charges of corruption against him.
When Melendez raised the issue of immigration, with specific reference to families being separated at the US border, Trump replied in vague terms, saying: "I wanna take care of the situation, every bit as much as everybody else at the top level. I'd like to do the larger solution, rather than the smaller solution."
The White House is yet to deny the authenticity of the audio.
Speaking to CNN, Melendez said that it only took 90 minutes to receive a call from the president."I am shocked... I mean we did this as a goof, I'm a comedian," he said. "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."
Melendez explained that he originally called the White House as himself, but was told that the President was too busy to speak to him. However, when he adopted an English accent and called back as "Shawn Moore", a fake assistant to Senator Menedez, he was told that Trump would return his call – and he did.
"All they had to ask me is what party affiliation is Sen. Menendez, or what state is he a senator of, and I would not have known. But they didn't ask me any of this," Melendez told CNN.
Melendez said that he didn't try to alter his "bad Long Island accent" during the phone call.
Regarding the ease with which Melendez contacted Trump, the White House told CNN: "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."
Melendez has revealed that he was visited by the Secret Service following the call, and is taking legal advice from the Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who also represents the former porn star Stormy Daniels.