By DARLENE SUPERVILLE , Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — In an annual Thanksgiving tradition, President Donald Trump used the power of his office Tuesday to keep a pair of turkeys off the holiday table.
But Trump jokingly warned that while the 39-pound bird named Peas and a 41-pounder named Carrots are free to live the rest of their lives, they may have to answer to Democrats, who will control the House beginning in January and have promised to investigate the president’s actions and business dealings.
The White House held an online contest to determine which bird should be pardoned. Trump identified the “lucky bird” as Peas.
“This was a fair election,” joked the president, whose wife, first lady Melania Trump, was on hand to witness the act of mercy carried out during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. “Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots. But I will tell you, we’ve come to a conclusion, Carrots. I’m sorry to tell you, the result did not change. That’s too bad for Carrots.”
Trump pardoned both gobblers, who will be sent to Virginia Tech to be cared for by poultry science and veterinary students.
“I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas,” he said. “Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that your pardons won’t be enjoined by the Ninth Circuit.” That was a reference to the San Francisco-based federal appeals court that has overturned some of Trump’s actions.
Turning serious, Trump said Thanksgiving “is a time for Americans to unite together in a spirit of love, understanding, unity and joy as one very proud American family.” He said all “American hearts” are joined with those affected by the devastating California wildfires.
Trump also gave thanks for the “men and women who protect our families and who protect our flag” and for service members stationed overseas.
President George H.W. Bush established the annual turkey pardon tradition in 1989 by sparing a 50-pound bird.
Trump was traveling to his Florida estate later Tuesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family.