After wishing Butter “a lot of luck,” he completed the pardon and sent both birds off to “Gobblers Rest,” an agricultural facility at Virginia Tech University. There, he predicted they “will be cared for and enjoy a terrific life,” though it’s highly unlikely either bird will live to see another Thanksgiving thanks to the breeding practices of turkey farmers.
The annual tradition began after Abraham Lincoln granted a one-time, unofficial pardon because his son had grown fond of a bird delivered to the White House. The lighthearted poultry rite continued throughout various administrations until George H.W. Bush made the turkey pardon official when he took office in 1989.
Trump has kept up the tradition, granting an official pardon last year to Peas and Carrots and the year before sparing Drumstick and Wishbone.
Trump’s pair of pardons come amid speculation about whether he will grant clemency to his longtime associate, Roger Stone, who was found guilty earlier this month on all charges for thwarting a House investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.
Trump also stepped into controversy by granting full pardons last Friday to a pair of Army officers convicted of or charged with war crimes, while also promoting Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was tried and acquitted for similar violations of the laws of armed conflict. Internal tension about the move set off a series of events resulting Defense Secretary Mark Esper forcing out Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.