Amateur Hour at the White House
I listened to the Stuttering John podcast (well, the half dealing with the Trump call anyway). Here are some observations.
The phone number they used is the White House public number. Anyone can call it. Their first attempt was a failure. Stuttering John was stonewalled by the operator when he truthfully identified himself by name as someone who knows DJT. The second call was more successful. He pretended to be a staff member calling on behalf of Sen Bob Menendez. The operator seemed to take this call more seriously, and after Stuttering John fed her some BS about Menendez needing to speak with The Donald urgently about some bill in Congress, she took his name and number and promised to get back to him.
Time passes. They get a call from a WH staff person calling to confirm the cellphone number, because it is not on their list of numbers for Menendez. Stuttering John tells her he is on vacation in California, using another cellphone, because Menendez really, really has to talk to Trump. Staffer says OK, no problem. We just had to confirm it was you.
[Note: Stuttering John affected a bad English accent and assumed the name Sean Moore — “Sean — S-E-A-N — as in Connery and Moore as in Roger Moore,” he told the staffer. I am pretty sure there is no such person on Menendez’s staff.]
The phone rings “unknown caller.” It is Trump. Stuttering John uses his normal speaking voice and pretends to be Bob Menendez. Hilarity ensues.
So, here’s the clusterfuck in detail.
(1) Congressmen would not be calling the WH public phone number, because they have their own access numbers for communications with the WH.
(2) They would also not be calling the WH public number to speak to the president personally. Friends of the prexy would presumably have a private number to call.
(3) The first call was done by the book.
(4) The second call did not follow procedure, and that switchboard operator is likely looking for a new job on Monday.
(5) Whoever then took that incoming message seriously and walked it up the chain to the actual presidential staff will also be looking for a new job come Monday. Given items 1 and 2, the message should have spiked right away as a prank. Someone could have called Menendez’s office to confirm the caller’s identity, but this was not done.
(6) The confirmation call was by the book, but the staffer took Stuttering John’s vacation ruse as a valid reason to use an unknown phone number. She did not challenge his identity, or location in California, or the reasons for this urgent call sufficiently. She will also be out of work on Monday, even if Kushner approved the eventual call-back as is alleged.
(7) Kushner will not be looking for a new job on Monday.
(8) Trump should not have used his personal phone to return the call without everyone being sure it really was Bob Menendez calling. Stuttering John provided his own personal cellphone number in California as the callback number, which was supposedly Sean Moore’s — the fake staffer. Menendez and his staff would likely have numbers with NJ or DC area codes.
(9) Other pranksters will try this same approach now.
(10) This WH is full of amateurs who should not be allowed out of the house without supervision.
The Trump prank call process begins about halfway through the podcast. The actual call is at the end. Stuttering John and his producer discuss it before playing the recording.