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Lame duck Donald Trump to pardon White House turkey

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Lame duck President Donald Trump hosts the annual White House turkey pardon on Tuesday, sparing a farm bird from the Thanksgiving table and maybe previewing pardons for some of his human friends. The bizarre presidential ritual ahead of Thursday’s national holiday, when more than 45 million turkeys are eaten nationwide, dates back decades.

This year, though, the light-hearted stunt comes in the midst of Trump’s unprecedented refusal to concede defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in the election. He was still at it early Tuesday, retweeting a picture of himself glowering over the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office with the caption: “I concede NOTHING!!!!!”

The Rose Garden event will mark one of a handful of times that Trump has been seen working at all since his November 3 loss. He has had more golf outings than public events, while spending much of his time unsuccessfully trying to get the election results overturned.

Taking center stage with the president will be two large white turkeys named Corn and Cob.

The White House has been running a poll on Twitter to see which should get the presidential pardon, even if in reality both will be sent off to retirement at “Gobbler’s Rest,” part of Virginia Tech University.

Trump has not taken questions from journalists since his defeat and was not expected to do so Tuesday. But he will be watched closely for any hints about more serious pardoning plans ahead of handing over to Biden on January 20. Many outgoing presidents ramp up their use of the pardon as they pack up in the White House.

Often these are relatively uncontroversial shows of mercy or attempts to promote national reconciliation, such as blanket pardons by presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter for Americans who dodged the Vietnam War draft.

At some point between now and his last day in office, Trump is expected to expand his previous focus on pardons for people given harsh prison sentences for relatively minor drug crimes as far back as in the 1990s.

But Trump has frequently mused over the possibility of entering the murkier waters of granting pardons to friends or even to people caught up in crimes related to his administration.

Facing multiple legal probes over his tax affairs, alleged campaign finance crimes and sexual assault allegations, Trump has also stated that he could issue a pardon to himself – though there appears to be little legal backing for this view.

Among the notable figures that the Republican has publicly suggested he is considering pardoning are fugitive intelligence services whistleblower Edward Snowden, the reality TV star “Tiger King” Joe Exotic, and former aides snared in Robert Mueller’s probe into contacts between Russia and Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

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