U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry thought he was discussing American energy interests with Ukraine’s prime minister during a lengthy phone call last week.
But according to the U.S. Energy Department, Perry was duped into the 22-minute call with Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov, a pair of pranksters who are sometimes referred to as the “Jerky Boys of Russia.” The Jerky Boys were an American comedy duo whose routine consisted mainly of prank phone calls.
“These individuals are known for pranking high-level officials and celebrities, particularly those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments,” Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement to Reuters.
Perry and the pranksters discussed a wide range of topics, including Russian sanctions, the Paris climate accord, coal, oil and gas projects in the region and the United States helping Ukraine develop its own energy program.
“Giving Ukraine more options with some of our technology is, I think, in everyone’s best interest with the exception of the Russians,” Perry said on the July 19 call, which was posted online Tuesday. “But that’s OK.”
The energy secretary is not alone in falling for the duo. In 2015, Elton John was crank-called by Krasnov, who was pretending to be Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Afterwards, the pop star posted a message on Instagram thanking Putin.
“I look forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia,” John wrote.
Perry’s boss, President Trump, has been the target of similar pranks in the past.
In 2003, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen interviewed Trump on “Da Ali G Show,” a satirical comedy series that featured Cohen conducting interviews in his wannabe rapper character.
But Trump soon realized he was being punked and walked out.
“Good luck, folks. It’s been nice seeing you,” he said. “You take care of yourself, OK?”
“I never fall for scams,” Trump tweeted years later. “I am the only person who immediately walked out of my ‘Ali G’ interview.”
I never fall for scams. I am the only person who immediately walked out of my ‘Ali G’ interview
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2012
“He claims that he saw through the interview, but actually he was there for seven minutes,” Cohen said.
“Is that long for an Ali G interview?” host James Corden asked.
“Yes,” Cohen replied. “Quite a long time.”
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