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What the turkey pardon says about Trump's transition

CNN logo CNN 11/25/2020 Analysis by Lauren Dezenski, CNN
Donald Trump, Barron Trump standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump made two rare post-Election Day appearances in front of TV cameras today -- in both of which he touted stock market gains that have little to do with his leadership

Trump then appeared alongside the first lady to issue an all-important turkey pardon. 

It's a presidential tradition full of showmanship, largely devoid of substance, with Trump center stage. It seems to be one of his favorite traditions, and a potential indicator of what's to come.

Video: Trump touts 'America first' during turkey pardoning event (CNN)


Consider this observation from Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman in The New York Times:

"In some ways, Mr. Trump had seemed to imagine his Washington life more closely resembling a rolling turkey pardon — the pomp and splendor, yes, but also a world largely amenable to his boss-man bearing and binary whims: This bird is spared. Those birds are not. He'd have his people call the turkey people and hammer out the fine print later. But through it all, his word would be final."

There are already signs we'll likely see more ceremonies centered on pomp and circumstance than other political events over the next 57 days. We have seen Trump on camera only a handful of times since his election loss. No one is holding their breath for a traditional White House confab between outgoing Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, or even a normal concession speech. 

Yet Trump has marched ahead with lighter ceremonial traditions. On Monday, the White House Christmas Tree arrived. Despite the pandemic, the outgoing administration is still planning to host many of this year's public and private White House holiday events -- albeit in a smaller fashion, report CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein. But it's hard to argue that since Election Day, Trump has spent much of his time tweeting, golfing and firing people

The President will likely announce his real-world pardons soon: Previous presidents announced non-turkey pardons and clemencies in the final days of their administrations. 

The Point: The Trump administration's remaining days will likely look more like the turkey pardon than a normal day at work.


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