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President Trump got prank called. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The host of "The Stuttering John" podcast, John Melendez, got President Trump on the phone yesterday by pretending he was New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez. "This is how easy it is to infiltrate the administration," Melendez said in the episode.

Why it matters: This calls into question White House security. White House staff members are freaking out today trying to figure out how the podcast host was so easily transferred from the White House switchboard to Air Force One, per a source familiar with the call.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Melendez, the host, had three different interactions with two White House operators and got through two call screens before Jared Kushner called him from Air Force One. According to Melendez, Kushner asked if he wanted to talk to the president then or have them call him back later, which is what he did.

The details: When the White House operator calls back, he says: "Hello is this Sen. Menendez?" and then "Hello is this Air Force One?"

  • President Trump picked up the phone congratulating who he thought was Sen. Menendez and telling him he "went through a very tough situation."
  • He also talked about immigration. "Bob, let me just tell you 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."
  • He said the North Dakota Senate race is "a tough race."
  • Regarding his SCOTUS nominee, he said they'll be done making a decision in 12 to 14 days.

The White House didn't respond to requests for comment. In a statement to Axios, Sen. Bob Menendez said he welcomes “any opportunity to have a real conversation with the president" about this immigration reform.

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Go deeper

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
40 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

3 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.