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White House moving forward with turkey pardon amid pandemic, post-election fight

The Hill logo The Hill 11/18/2020 Judy Kurtz
Donald Trump standing next to a man in a suit and tie: White House moving forward with turkey pardon amid pandemic, post-election fight © Greg Nash White House moving forward with turkey pardon amid pandemic, post-election fight

Despite the pandemic and President Trump largely disappearing from public events in the wake of this month's election, the turkey pardon will go on.

The annual Thanksgiving event at the White House is poised to take place next week, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the fowl-filled gathering.

Questions had been raised about whether the ceremony would happen amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The seated audience, which will be smaller than years past, will be socially distanced, according to a senior White House official. Face coverings are required for all who attend, and those in close proximity with Trump will be tested beforehand.

Trump has kept a light public schedule after the Nov. 3 election was called for President-elect Joe Biden, refusing to concede and regularly tweeting unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud as his legal team mounts challenges in multiple states.

The White House, which typically allows voters to choose from a pair of gobblers which one will be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey, has not yet updated its page.

While the winner receives a turkey pardon from the commander in chief, traditionally both animals - which ITK hears hail from Iowa this year - are spared from ending up on the Thanksgiving table.

Trump made headlines at the 2017 pardon ceremony when he joked about overturning Obama-era policies.

"As many of you know, I've been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor," he said in the Rose Garden.

"However, I have been informed by the White House counsel's office that Tater and Tot's pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked," he added with a smile.

The White House turkey pardon is an annual Thanksgiving tradition that's said to date back to the days of Abraham Lincoln.

-Brett Samuels contributed. Updated at 3:49 p.m.

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