Trump pardons turkeys, tells impeachment jokes at annual Thanksgiving event

President Donald Trump couldn’t resist riffing on the House impeachment inquiry Tuesday as he continued the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, generating holiday-season laughter at the expense of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, one of his chief antagonists in Congress.

Trump joked that the pair of North Carolina-bred turkeys he was about to pardon had been raised to “remain calm under any condition,” a trait that he said will be “very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday.”

“It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey,” Trump told guests seated in the White House Rose Garden, where he was flanked by his wife, first lady Melania Trump. But he told the turkeys that, “unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met. It’s very unusual.”

Trump’s Republican defenders in Congress had criticized Schiff for holding closed-depositions in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, which Democrats said was necessary for the investigation. Trump has criticized the impeachment inquiry as both a “scam” and a “hoax.”

Trump also has claimed to barely know some of the witnesses – including Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union – who testified during public impeachment hearings chaired by Schiff, a California Democrat. Testimony from several officials showed that Sondland had been in frequent contact with Trump around the time Trump spoke with the president of Ukraine about doing a politically beneficial “favour.”

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