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First lady Melania Trump looks on as US President Donald Trump pardons Corn the turkey at the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

PoliticoDonald Trump pardons Corn the turkey as a finishing White House act

  • ‘Thanksgiving is a very special day for turkeys. Not a very good one, when you think about it,’ the president said
  • Trump cracked jokes as he took part in White House tradition for the last time in his term
Donald Trump

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Matthew Choi on on November 24, 2020.

US President Donald Trump officially pardoned Corn the turkey from the dinner table on Tuesday, presenting a chipper mood as his presidency enters its twilight.

Standing before about 100 guests on a sunny fall day, with first lady Melania Trump at his side, the president cracked jokes as he partook in a White House tradition for the last time of his term.

“Thanksgiving is a very special day for turkeys. Not a very good one, when you think about it,” Trump said.

He kicked off celebrating a healthy stock market and celebrated the country's farmers, police and military. He also celebrated the enduring tradition of the turkey pardon, evoking its origins in the days of Abraham Lincoln, but the signs of an unusually troubled year were apparent.

Trump lauded the progress on coronavirus vaccines and thanked health care workers for their efforts in controlling the pandemic. And while the president and first lady did not wear masks, other attendees had their faces covered.

“From our earliest days, America has always been a story of perseverance and triumph, determination and strength, loyalty and faith,” Trump said. “This week in a time that is very unusual but in so many, ways very, very good, what we've endured and been able to endure, with the vaccines now coming out, one after another, it's an incredible thing that happened.”


Trump did not make any mention of the election or the previous night's announcement that his administration would allow President-elect Joe Biden to proceed with the transition. But while acknowledging the armed services and law enforcement, Trump said “America first – shouldn’t go away from that, America first”.

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It was a contrast from the sombre quiet coming from the White House since the race was called for Biden over two weeks ago. Trump has refused to take questions from reporters and his public schedule has been largely empty.

After his remarks, Trump hovered his hand over Corn and pardoned the fowl. Another turkey, Cob, was dubbed the backup bird this year, but he was not spotted at the White House ceremony.

“We hope – and we know it's going to happen – that Corn and Cob have a very long, happy and memorable life,” Trump said.


Turkeys pardoned at the White House are bred for slaughter and are often too unhealthy to support long lifespans. Most die a few months after getting pardoned.

Read Politico’s story.