Like his predecessors, President Trump had fun with the traditionally tongue-in-cheek ceremony of pardoning of the national Thanksgiving turkey on Tuesday — joking that the bird remained calm even under threat of a subpoena from House Democrats.
Butter, a 47-pound turkey raised in North Carolina, received the traditional pardon in the White House Rose Garden, where invited guests included some Republican lawmakers whom Mr. Trump called “warriors” in his defense against the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The president said Butter and his companion, Bread, were specially raised by farmer Willie Jackson “to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday.”
“It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey,” Mr. Trump said, turning to the birds. “But Bread and Butter, I should note that unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met. It’s very unusual.”
He was referring to a parade of mid-level government witnesses who have testified in the impeachment hearings run by Mr. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Among the GOP lawmakers in the audience were Reps. Mark Meadows and David Rouzer of North Carolina, and Jason Smith of Missouri.
Even as the House Judiciary Committee announced it would open impeachment hearings next week, the president declared, “It’s going to be a great Thanksgiving.”
Gesturing to the Oval Office behind him, the president said, “Some of you haven’t been here before. But every time we walk onto the grounds of the White House, we realize how special it is.”
Mr. Trump and his family were flying later in the day to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, for the holiday.
President George H.W. Bush started the tradition of issuing a pardon for the Thanksgiving turkey in 1989, although previous presidents also were known to spare the birds. Butter and Bread will live out their days at Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where they will be cared for by students and veterinarians.
Mr. Trump thanked the members of the armed forces and their families on Thanksgiving for their sacrifices.
“We’re forever thankful for those who wear our nation’s uniform and the families who support them,” he said. “It could never be the same without those great families. Because of their selfless service, millions of our fellow Americans are celebrating another wonderful Thanksgiving in safety and peace.”
He added, “As we gather this week with loved ones across our beautiful land, we give thanks to God for the many gifts that he has bestowed upon us.”
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