There’s a turkey in the White House as Trump grants poultry pardons

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US President Donald Trump has used the power of his office to keep a pair of turkeys off the holiday table, in an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

Mr Trump’s poultry pardon means the two turkeys — a 39-pound bird named Peas and a 41-pounder named Carrots — will get to live the rest of their lives at a Virginia farm.

He then jokingly compared the vote to the recent US midterm elections which saw the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, and a series of recounts in Florida.

“This was a fair election,” joked the president, whose wife Melania 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.”

Mr Trump pardoned both birds, 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,” he added, in a reference to the San Francisco-based federal appeals court that has overturned some of Mr Trump’s actions.

Turning serious, Mr 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.

Mr 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 HW Bush established the annual turkey pardon tradition in 1989 by sparing a 50-pound bird.

Mr Trump was traveling to his Florida estate later Tuesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family.

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