Fact Check

Did Trump Pardon a Turkey That 'Refused To Concede' an Election?

The annual presidential Thanksgiving tradition in 2018 eerily foreshadowed the real 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Published Nov. 23, 2020

Image courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov
U.S. President Donald Trump pardoned a turkey whom he said had lost a "fair and open election" but "refused to concede."

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The "pardoning" of a live turkey by the President of the United States, thus sparing the bird from ending up as a family's holiday dinner, is an annual Thanksgiving tradition that began with U.S. President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

In 2018, in an eerie foreshadowing (or, some would cynically say, a telegraphing of strategy) of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, U.S. President Donald Trump pardoned a turkey named Carrots who had lost "a fair and open election" (i.e., a White House poll) over which of two turkeys should be spared.

According to Trump, Carrots was the loser of the election but "refused to concede and demanded a recount," and even though "the result did not change," Trump mercifully granted a pardon to both Carrots and the winning turkey.

USA Today contemporaneously described the 2018 version of the yearly White House holiday event as follows:

Thanksgiving is for family, friends and food, but on Tuesday at the White House, it was for the birds.

Two birds, specifically: Peas and Carrots, who received a kind of "presidential pardon" from President Donald Trump on Tuesday in the Rose Garden.

“That turkey is so lucky. I’ve never seen such a beautiful turkey," Trump said.

Joined by first lady Melania, Trump said although both turkeys were being pardoned, Peas was declared the winner of a White House poll that asked Americans to pick which turkey should be pardoned. Trump deemed the contest a "fair and open election."

"Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots," he said. "I will tell you we’ve come to a conclusion. Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you the result did not change."

"Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas," Trump concluded.

Here's a video of that November 2018 event:

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