Rick Perry, known best as the former governor of Texas, now serves as U.S. energy secretary under President Trump. Last week, Perry was tricked into an interview by Russian comedians who pretended to be the Ukraine’s prime minister.
In a phone interview that was recorded by the comedians, Perry can be heard explaining the possibility of expanding American coal exports to Ukraine.
The stunt was pulled off by the “Jerky Boys of Russia,” Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov.
Perry shouldn’t feel too bad; he isn’t the first person to be duped by the Russian duo. The Jerky Boys pull pranks on celebrities and politicians all the time. They famously once tricked singer Elton John into believing he was speaking with President Putin on the phone.
Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a written statement: “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.”
The call lasted for a little more than 20-minutes and took place on July 19.
Perry, whose department oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons program, discussed a range of topics in a business-like tone, including sanctions against Russia and helping Ukraine develop oil and gas.
Perry said the Trump administration opposes Nord Stream 2, a Russian project to bring natural gas to Europe across the Baltic and that U.S. technology could help Ukraine develop gas.
“Giving Ukraine more options with some of our technology is, I think, in everyone’s best interest with the exception of the Russians, but that’s OK,” he said.
Perry also discussed the Paris climate accord and coal exports on the call.
The incident happened nearly one month after Perry met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and weeks after President Trump vowed to offer Ukraine more coal exports because the country’s industrial sector has difficulty getting coal from separatist-held regions.
Although Trump never explained how the United States would or could bring more coal to Ukraine, during the prank phone call, Perry suggested that the Commerce Department is working on a solution. During the call, Perry can be heard saying, “The coal conversation at this particular point in time is with (Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross) and I full well suspect it will go forward.”
News of the call came the same day the House voted overwhelmingly to impose new sanctions on Russia.
Some of the interviews can be listened to by clicking here.
ABOUT RICK PERRY
James Richard “Rick” Perry (born March 4, 1950) is an American politician who is the 14th and current United States Secretary of Energy, serving in the Cabinet of Donald Trump. Prior to his cabinet position, Perry served as the 47th Governor of Texas from December 2000 to January 2015. A Republican, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was the longest-serving governor in Texas history. Perry was elected three times to full gubernatorial terms and is the fourth Texas governor (after Allan Shivers, Price Daniel and John Connally) to serve three terms. With a tenure in office of 14 years, 30 days, Perry was, at the time he left office, the second longest-serving current U.S. governor (after Terry Branstad of Iowa). Perry ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012 and 2016.
On December 14, 2016, Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate the longtime Texas governor as his Secretary of Energy. On March 2, 2017, he was confirmed by the United States Senate in a 62–37 vote.
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