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The White House on Monday revealed the names of the two feathered contenders who will vie for the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey — Bread and Butter.
The turkeys arrived at the Willard Hotel on Sunday to enjoy a luxurious stay in a historic D.C. suite ahead of Tuesday's time-honored White House tradition in which the sitting president publicly spares two lucky birds from becoming Thanksgiving dinner.
The tradition began after Abraham Lincoln granted a one-time, unofficial turkey pardon because his son had grown fond of a bird delivered to the White House. The gesture continued in jest throughout various administrations until George H.W. Bush made the turkey pardon official when he took office in 1989.
President Donald Trump has kept up the tradition, delivering an official pardon last year to Peas and Carrots, two turkeys who preened for the cameras before being sent off to "Gobbler’s Rest," an agricultural education facility at Virginia Tech University.
And he managed to fit in a jab at House Democrats' desire to investigate presidential actions.
“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.
Aside from the annual turkey talk, Trump has generally expressed zeal for presidential pardons, even suggesting that he could pardon himself if impeached or indicted.
“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” the president wrote on Twitter in 2018 amid ongoing investigations into potential obstruction of justice and Russian election interference.
Throughout his tenure, Trump has flexed his Constitutional power with 18 presidential pardons and six commuted sentences, significantly less than his predecessor. President Barack Obama commuted 1,715 sentences and issued 212 pardons to individuals charged with federal crimes. Most of the people granted clemency by Obama had been convicted on drug charges and were serving lengthy sentences delivered at the height of the war on drugs.
Though Trump has seemingly used his Article II powers sparingly, pundits have criticized the president for primarily granting clemency to individuals charged with crimes such as fraud, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations.
The poultry pardons come as speculation is swirling around whether Trump will grant clemency to his longtime associate Roger Stone, who was found guilty on all charges for thwarting a House investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.
The president also courted controversy by granting full pardons on Friday to a pair of Army officers convicted of or charged with war crimes, while also promoting Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was tried and acquitted for similar violations of the laws of armed conflict.
Over the weekend, Defense Secretary Mark Esper forced out Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over a private compromise Spencer tried to work out with the White House regarding Gallagher.