“I hear that beautiful turkey,” President Donald Trump mused as he entered the Rose Garden on Tuesday to kick off the annual White House Turkey pardon.
That beautiful Turkey was Drumstick, a 36-pound bird spared death during this seasonal ritual. Trump only pardoned Drumstick at the ceremony, but despite the wishes of the American people, a second turkey, Wishbone, will also be allowed to live and comfortably retire to a farm in Virginia known as “Gobbler’s Rest.”
Which turkey should be pardoned during the National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning Ceremony?— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 20, 2017
After the pardoning, Drumstick and Wishbone will join last year’s turkeys, Tater and Tot, at Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit.
“In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will grant a presidential pardon to a Turkey,” Trump announced. He compared himself to Harry Truman, the first president to receive a turkey from the National Turkey Foundation, who Trump said “refused” to pardon the turkeys. (This is true — the first president to actually pardon a turkey, according to Snopes, was George H.W. Bush.)
“He was a tough cookie,” Trump said, of Truman. “Today, I’m going to be a much nicer president.”
Trump tried a few other one-liners, including a joke about a lot “strange birds” visiting the White House and the “bright future” ahead for Drumstick, unlike his turkey buddies. One quip that didn’t quite land, maybe because it was a little too on the nose: A joke that Trump would undo last year’s turkey pardons simply because Obama did it.
“As many of you know, I’ve been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor,” Trump said. "However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel's office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked. So we’re not going to revoke them.”
President Trump: "I'm pleased to report that unlike millions of other turkeys at this time of the year, Drumstick has a very, very bright future ahead of him" https://t.co/k84rw2tRGx— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 21, 2017
Trump thanked the military and law enforcement and added some additional Thanksgiving wishes before deciding Drumstick was thinking: “Enough talk, please pardon us.”
Trump walked to where Drumstick stood atop a harvest-themed bouquet and, very calmly, waited for his star moment.
“I feel so good about myself doing this,” Trump said as he stroked the turkey. Then, he finally declared: “Drumstick, you are hereby pardoned.”
"Drumstick, you are hereby pardoned," President Trump declares https://t.co/kCJChnTHBY— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 21, 2017
Overall, the event concluded more successfully than the last time Trump came face-to-face with a large bird, as Vox’s Tara Golshan noted. But a pardoning ceremony can be a bit of an awkward affair when your campaign is under federal investigation:
A reporter just shouted from the back of the rose garden at the president: "ARE YOU GOING TO PARDON ANY PEOPLE!?"— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) November 21, 2017