WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday offered reprieve to a turkey as part of an annual Thanksgiving tradition.
The National Turkey Federation presented the two birds, named Corn and Cob in honor of their home state of Iowa. Corn was declared the national Thanksgiving turkey, though both will retire to a new home on the campus of Iowa State University.
The practice of sending a turkey to a farm became the norm under President Ronald Reagan. But George H.W. Bush established the annual turkey pardon tradition in 1989 by sparing a 50-pound bird as animal rights activists picketed nearby.
This year’s lighthearted event took place in the shadow of the 2020 election, which Trump has refused to concede. On Monday, the federal government officially recognized Biden as the “apparent winner” of the election.
The go-ahead by the General Services Administration formally starts the transition of power.
President Donald Trump speaks before he pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey next to first lady Melania Trump during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C, on Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MAN
In 2019, Trump used the annual pardon to make jokes about the impeachment process. The House would go on to approve two articles of impeachment the next month and the Senate would subsequently vote to acquit him.
In 2018, Trump’s joked about one of the turkeys contesting the pardon election. The scenario he described bears a striking resemblance to the one he faces today.
“This was a fair election,” the president joked. “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.”
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.