WASHINGTON — President Trump made light of the contentious recent elections as he conducted the traditional Thanksgiving turkey pardon in the White House’s Rose Garden on Tuesday. The online vote to choose which of two South Dakota-bred turkeys — Peas or Carrots —, would join Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing polemicist Dinesh D’Souza, and last year’s winners, Drumstick and Wishbone, as beneficiaries of a Trump pardon was untainted by fraud, the president said.
But he also chose to disregard the outcome, which was a victory by Peas, and gave pardons to both.
“The winner of this vote was decided by a fair and open election conducted on the White House website,” Trump said. “This was a fair election.”
Trump’s remarks on the fairness of the poultry poll drew laughs because he has, without evidence, suggested U.S. races are plagued by “illegal votes” in the wake of the midterm elections that saw Democrats make substantial gains in the House of Representatives. Midterm campaigns in Florida and Georgia ended in contentious recounts and legal disputes, which Trump also joked about.
“Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots,” said Trump. “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.”
In the end, Trump said both turkeys would get to “live out their days” in a sanctuary on the campus of Virginia Tech. However, he teasingly hinted something might interrupt their respite — the wave of investigations Democrats are expected to launch against the Trump administration now that they’ve taken control of the House.
“Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas,” he said.
With shouts from protests taking place outside the White House faintly audible in the background, Trump also used the occasion to offer sympathy to those affected by the wildfires in California and a message for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“All joking aside, this is a time for Americans to unite together in the spirit of love und unity and joy as one very proud American family. Our nation is doing well,” Trump said.
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