Rick Perry Tricked Into Fake Interview With Russian Pranksters

Energy Secretary Rick Perry listens to a question at a news conference, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Energy Secretary Rick Perry thought he was talking to Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman.

But the 22-minute phone call he held this week, discussing everything from deals on coal exports to President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate deal, was actually with two Russian pranksters who call themselves the “Jerky Boys of Russia.”

During the call, the two reportedly told Perry about a new biofuel made from alcohol and manure and discussed a cheap trade deal on coal exports, according to Bloomberg.

“Negotiation is always possible,” he told them.

The three also reportedly discussed the President’s opposition to a Nordstream 2 pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany and the administration’s support of new Russia sanctions.

The call was arranged after Perry met with Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko.

But Perry isn’t the first to get duped by the pair, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told Bloomberg. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and singer Elton John have also fallen for their trick.

“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. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine,” Hynes said.

Correction: This post originally reported that McCain was a senator from Texas. We regret the error.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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