WASHINGTON (CBS SF) – While the annual presidential turkey pardon is typically free of partisan politics, President Donald Trump took jabs at the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the incoming House Democratic majority at Tuesday’s ceremony.
Ahead of leaving Washington for Thanksgiving at his Mar-A-Lago resort, Mr. Trump pardoned two birds from South Dakota named “Peas” and “Carrots.”
Instead of becoming Thanksgiving dinner, Trump said the birds would spend the rest of their lives at “Gobblers Rest” on the campus of Virginia Tech.
The president then said the birds’ time won’t be entirely restful.
“Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas,” the president said to some laughs.
By winning control of House of Representatives in the midterm elections, Democrats will gain subpoena power and may launch investigations when the next Congress convenes in January. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is likely to become Speaker.
Trump also took a swipe at the 9th Circuit, a court that has often been ridiculed by conservatives. Since Trump took office, the court blocked several actions by the administration, including his decision to end the DACA program.
“Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that your pardon won’t be enjoined by the 9th Circuit. Always happens,” the president said.
Trump then said, “All joking aside. This is a time for Americans to unite together in a spirit of love, understanding and unity and joy, as one very proud American family.”
The president also talked about the recent wildfires, saying, “And we also pray for those in need, especially for our fellow citizens impacted by the devastating wildfires in California, where I just came back, I’ve never seen anything like it, probably nobody has.”
Following the ceremony, Trump continued his attack against the 9th Circuit court and federal courts on the West Coast.
Trump was asked Tuesday about a district judge’s ruling from San Francisco that temporarily blocked his administration’s effort to deny asylum to migrants who enter the U.S. illegally.
The government has not said whether it would appeal, but if it did, the appeal would be filed with the 9th Circuit, which covers Alaska, Arizona, California and Hawaii.
Trump called the circuit a “disgrace” and judges “very unfair.” He says: “Every suit that gets filed in the 9th Circuit, we get beaten.”
According to the White House Historical Association, the act of pardoning a turkey has dated as far back as the Lincoln administration. Turkey pardoning did not become an annual tradition until George H. W. Bush’s presidency in 1989.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.