Turkey pardon 2019: Trump pardons Bread and Butter - and makes impeachment jokes
WASHINGTON – Before heading to his new home base in Florida for the Thanksgiving weekend, President Donald Trump engaged Tuesday in the quasi-political tradition of turkey pardoning – and cracked jokes about efforts to impeach him.
The turkeys Bread and Butter were raised "to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they have already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff's basement," Trump said.
"It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkeys," Trump added.
For good measure, Trump joked that Bread and Butter will provide unique testimony because "unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met. It's very unusual."
Following the tradition of earlier presidents, Trump spared the lives of both of the turkeys presented to him, but he announced an official presidential pardon only for Butter, who was officially designated this year's National Thanksgiving Turkey.
The guests at the ceremony included two House Republicans who are among Trump's most ardent defenders, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. "They have all been great warriors," Trump said of his congressional guests.
Trump also extolled his presidency during the ceremony, praising the stock market and the military, and telling the crowd that "our country is doing very well"
It's not the first time Trump has used the traditional turkey pardoning to make jokes about his political opponents.
At last year's event, held less than a month after Democrats won control of the U.S. House in the congressional elections, Trump wisecracked about the opposition's desire to investigate him.
“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.
Trump also joked about his defeats in lawsuits, telling last year's turkeys: "Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that your pardons won’t be enjoined by the Ninth Circuit ... Always happens."
In 2017, his first turkey pardoning as president, Trump joked that, while seeking to reverse many of the actions taken by predecessor Barack Obama, "I have been informed by the White House Counsel’s Office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked ... So, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy."
Earlier in the day, Trump signed an executive order establishing a task force on missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
“That’s something that should have been done a long time ago,” Trump said at an Oval Office signing ceremony.
After the turkey pardoning, Trump is scheduled to leave the White House for a Thanksgiving weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida – his first holiday since he switched his residency from New York City to Florida.
The president kicks off the weekend with a campaign rally Tuesday night in Sunrise which is about 50 miles southwest of Palm Beach.
Trump also warmed up for his turkey pardoning by tweeting.
In a series of posts, Trump criticized a judge's decision that White House Counsel Donald McGahn must testify to Congress about claims the president tried to short-circuit the Russia investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. The administration is appealing the ruling.
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House Democrats are also seeking testimony from Trump aides in the impeachment investigation involving Ukraine. Trump is accused of using foreign aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating U.S. Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden.
In his tweets, Trump said he is "fighting for future Presidents" in appealing the ruling that the White House lawyer must testify.
Denouncing the "D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media" over the impeachment saga, Trump said he would not mind testimony from McGahn, ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton, retiring Energy Secretary Rick Perry, or Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney because, he said, he has done nothing wrong.
"It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised," he said. "What has happened to me should never happen to another President!"