WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned two turkeys at the White House on Tuesday, his second time participating in the annual tradition.
The president, joined by First Lady Melania Trump, issued this year's pardon to Peas, a 40-pound bird from South Dakota, and his alternate Carrots. The winner and the alternate were decided in an online poll.
"The winner of this vote was decided by a fair and open election conducted on the White House website," Trump said at the ceremony in the White House rose garden. Trump has recently made unfounded allegations that severe voter fraud impacted the results of the 2018 midterm elections.
"Unfortunately Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount," Trump continued. "And we're still fighting with Carrots."
Recounts in the Florida gubernatorial and Senate race lasted for more than week after the election. Republicans were eventually declared the winner in both races.
Trump also warned the pair to be on the lookout for an investigative push from the incoming House Democratic majority.
"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.
And despite the pardons, he said, they shouldn't relax. "Unfortunately I can't guarantee that your pardons won't be enjoined by the Ninth Circuit. Always happens."
Courts in the Ninth Circuit have, at various times, put holds on versions of Trump's travel bans, his effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for individuals brought to the United States without legal status as children, and his push to force tougher immigration enforcement in so-called "sanctuary" cities.
Following the ceremony, Peas and Carrots will travel to the nearby campus of Virginia Tech University where they will live out the rest of their days in "Gobbler's Rest," an enclosure managed by the university's Animal and Poultry Sciences Department.
"Gobbler's Rest" has housed pardoned turkeys for the past three years, starting with President Barack Obama's final birds, Tater and Tot. The pair was later joined by Trump's first pair of pardons, Drumstick and Wishbone. All four birds have since died.
The tradition of presidential turkey pardons can be traced back as far as 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln spared a Christmas turkey's life after a plea from his son Tad, according to the White House Historical Association.