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Trump dishes out double helping of presidential turkey pardon

Before departing the White House for his resort home in Florida on Tuesday afternoon, President Trump handed out a pair of presidential pardons -- and the recipients gobbled up the spotlight. Amna Nawaz has the story of how this annual Thanksgiving tradition began.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Before leaving the White House this afternoon, President Trump handed out a pair of pardons. And the recipients gobbled up the spotlight.

    Amna Nawaz is back with how this Thanksgiving tradition began.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I hereby grant you a full and complete pardon.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Bread and Butter won't be on the Thanksgiving menu this year, thanks to President Trump.

    The commander in chief spared Butter in a Rose Garden ceremony, saving the bird from a crummy situation. His wingman Bread also received a presidential pardon.

    This year's fortunate birds, who hail from North Carolina, became instant celebrities this week, after checking in at the Willard International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    This is Bread. He weighs in at 45 pounds, and, according to the White House, likes bluegrass music and college basketball. His heftier counterpart, Butter, weighs 47 pounds. He enjoys sweet potato fries and NASCAR.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Today, we come together to honor the beautiful feathered friend, the noble turkey.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    This White House tradition has happened every November for the past quarter-century. But there are some, let's say, ruffled feathers about how it all got started.

  • Bill Clinton:

    President Truman was the first president to pardon a turkey.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But that's not true. In fact, the Truman Presidential Library says: "Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table."

    Truman was actually the first president to receive a turkey from the National Turkey Federation 71 years ago.

    So, who was the first president to pardon a turkey? Lincoln, it appears, was the first on record. But it was a Christmas turkey that his son had taken a liking to. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was the first to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey.

    Despite a sign hanging around the turkey's neck that read — quote — "Good eating, Mr. President," Kennedy sent the bird back to the farm.

    Richard Nixon also gave the birds a reprieve, sending his turkeys to a nearby petting zoo. Ronald Reagan was the first to use the word pardon when he was talking turkey in 1987. The turkey pardoning became formalized in 1989, with President George H.W. Bush.

  • George H.W. Bush:

    Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table. Not this guy.

  • Bill Clinton:

    This is the eighth I have had the privilege to meet and set free in the Rose Garden.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In 2000, Jerry the turkey from Wisconsin sported a White House pass around his neck. Four years later, the Bush administration also had some fun. The names of that year's turkeys were chosen in a vote on the White House Web site.

  • George W. Bush:

    This is an election year, and Biscuits had to earn his spot at the White House. Biscuits and his running mate, Gravy, prevailed over the ticket of Patience and Fortitude.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    When President Obama pardoned his final turkeys, he said that he wouldn't stop, even after leaving office.

  • Barack Obama:

    We are going to do this every year from now on.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Barack Obama:

    No cameras, just us, every year. No way I am cutting this habit cold turkey.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    President Trump, for his part, couldn't resist bringing politics into today's ceremony.

  • President Donald Trump:

    They have already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff's basement on Thursday.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Bread and Butter will now be sent to Blacksburg, Virginia, to live out the rest of their days at Virginia Tech, home of the HokieBird.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As far as I'm concerned, they have all gone to the birds.

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