President Trump exercised his pardon power on Tuesday, sparing two turkeys named Wishbone and Drumstick from becoming Thanksgiving dinner.
"I'm pleased to report that unlike millions of other turkeys at this time of the year, Drumstick has a very, very bright future ahead of him," Trump said at the pardoning, with first lady Melania and son Barron standing by his side and many extended family members in the audience.
When he approached Drumstick for the pardon, he exclaimed, "Big bird!"
Drumstick and Wishbone will live in "Gobbler's Rest" at Virginia Tech, which the president described as "a beautiful place." There, they'll join Tater and Tot, the turkeys former president Barack Obama pardoned in 2016.
Trump joked that, while he has taken many steps to try to reverse Obama's executive actions, the White House counsel's office advised him not to try to overturn the Democratic president's previous pardon of Wishbone and Drumstick's predecessors.
"Tater and Tot's pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked," he said. "So Tater and Tot, you can rest easy."
Trump's first turkey pardoning is in keeping with a White House tradition of nearly three decades. Keeping up with the Thanksgiving-themed jokes, he noted that the first president to participate in the turkey event, Harry Truman, did not in fact pardon his feathered guest of honor.
"He was a tough cookie," Trump said of Truman. "Today, I am going to be a much nicer president."
The first official turkey pardoning was done by former president George H. W. Bush in 1989, and the tradition has been carried on by every president ever since.
As Trump thanked members of the armed forces, police and first responders, he ignored shouted questions about whether he was going to pardon any people, according to pool reports.
Since taking office, the president has commented several times about his constitutional authority to grant reprieves and pardons. He's exercised it once before, pardoning the controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio back in August, without going through the usual process.
As Trump pardoned the turkeys, some of his political critics wondered if he planned to use his pardoning power as the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election continue. Several individuals – including Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his campaign and business associate Rick Gates – have been charged by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"Today, the president is publicly pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, but there's nothing to stop him from secretly pardoning a political turkey – and there is a lot of foul behavior at the White House," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who sits on the House's oversight panel, said in a statement.
Like many distinguished White House guests, Wishbone and Drumstick got special tours earlier on Tuesday.
While Drumstick checked out the Rose Garden, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders brought Wishbone into the briefing room.
As the lucky turkey gobbled and wobbled near the podium, Sanders told reporters: "If you guys haven't voted yet, you should do that ... Two more minutes."'
Sanders was referring to a poll the White House posted on Twitter, asking people to vote on which turkey Trump would pardon in the ceremony. (Regardless of social media popularity, both turkeys will live.)