WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump wielded his pardon power Tuesday to spare a pair of turkeys from the Thanksgiving roaster, joking that he would also let last year’s turkey pardons stand despite his penchant for overturning Obama-era orders.

In a brief and humorous White House ceremony, Trump extended the annual presidential tradition of pardoning turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving, an act of leniency that prolongs the lives of Minnesota-bred gobblers Wishbone and Drumstick, with the latter receiving the formal reprieve.

Trump said he and the first lady have welcomed many special visitors to the White House, including world leaders, Congress members “and, along the way, a few very strange birds. But we have yet to receive any visitors quite like our magnificent guest of honor today, Drumstick.”

“I’m pleased to report that unlike millions of other turkeys at this time of the year, Drumstick has a very, very bright future ahead of it,” he said. Trump announced that Drumstick “and his friend Wishbone” will spend the rest of their lives on the campus of Virginia Tech, joining Tater and Tot, the two turkeys that were pardoned last year by President Barack Obama.

Trump, who has undone numerous Obama initiatives, used the opportunity to poke fun at the former president.

“As many of you know, I’ve been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor,” Trump said. “However, I have been informed by the White House counsel’s office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked. So we’re not going to revoke them. So Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.”

Before declaring that Drumstick had been pardoned, Trump took a moment to thank service members and first responders, as well as the public.

“This Thursday, as we give thanks for our cherished loved ones, let us also renew our bonds of trust, loyalty and affection between our fellow citizens as members of a proud national family of Americans,” Trump said in the Rose Garden, flanked by his wife and 11-year-old son, Barron.

His daughters Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, and Tiffany, a law school student; Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior White House adviser; and the first lady’s parents also attended the ceremony.

Trump was headed later Tuesday to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he was spending the holiday with family.

 

Presidents as far back as Abraham Lincoln have spared turkeys. President George H.W. Bush is credited with turning the pardon into an annual tradition.

A Minnesota turkey farmer and 4-H kids raised the official National Thanksgiving Turkey  It's the 70th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey tradition. It dates from 1947, when the National Turkey Federation presented a 47-pound gobbler to President Harry Truman. In those days, the turkeys were destined for dinner. Formal pardons began with President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

The perk of taking presidential turkeys to Washington goes to the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. This year, that's Carl Wittenburg from Alexandria, Minnesota.