WASHINGTON – Donald Trump continued on Tuesday the presidential tradition of pardoning two turkeys, thus saving them from being roasted for Thanksgiving Day dinner, before departing for Palm Beach, Florida, to celebrate the most popular US holiday there with his family.
Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and the couple’s son Barron, the president presided at the pardoning ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to give a turkey named Drumstick, raised in Minnesota, a new lease on life.
Another turkey, named Wishbone and also from Minnesota, was pardoned on Tuesday by presidential order, but it was not seen at the ceremony.
The two birds did pose for photographers at the White House before the pardons, after being housed since the weekend in Washington at the luxury Willard InterContinental Hotel on the tab of the National Turkey Federation.
In contrast to the tens of millions of turkeys that will be cooked up for the holiday on Thursday, Drumstick will be “very happy” because he will have a “very, very bright future ahead of him,” joked Trump at the ceremony.
The president also said, in an ironic tone of voice, that he had been informed by the “White House counsel’s office that Tator and Tot’s pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked,” referring to the two turkeys pardoned last Thanksgiving by then-President Barack Obama, adding that those two birds can “rest easy.”
On the other hand, Trump ignored the question asked twice of him by a nearby reporter about whether he is thinking of pardoning anyone else, an allusion to the investigation headed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into the presumed Russian interference in the 2016 election, a probe that has already resulted in criminal charges being filed against three of the mogul’s former advisers.
President Abraham Lincoln established the Thanksgiving holiday during the Civil War to commemorate the celebration held by the Pilgrims who came to this country in 1620 to give thanks to God for a good harvest after a harsh winter.
In 1789, when George Washington was president, he had selected Nov. 26 as the official Thanksgiving Day, but in 1863 Lincoln decided that the holiday would henceforth be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.