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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as his son Barron and first lady Melania Trump listen during the 70th National Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump, who has raised eyebrows by mulling his power to pardon as investigators probe possible ties between his 2016 election campaign and Russia, used his authority in a less controversial way on Tuesday to "pardon" a Thanksgiving turkey.

Joined by his wife, Melania, and their son, Barron, Trump entered the Rose Garden for the annual presidential tradition and granted freedom to a large white bird named Drumstick.

Americans traditionally feast on turkey, stuffing and other delights on the Thanksgiving holiday, which takes place this coming Thursday, but Drumstick and his pal Wishbone were granted a reprieve.

"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.

The Republican president couldn't resist referring to his predecessor, former Democratic President Barack Obama, who pardoned two turkeys named Tater and Tot last year.

"As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor," Trump quipped. "However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel’s Office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked."

The turkeys will live at an enclosure at a nearby university, Virginia Tech.

Allegations of potential ties between Trump's presidential campaign and Moscow have loomed over the White House and investigations are ongoing. Trump and Moscow have denied collusion. In a message on Twitter in July, Trump noted that as president he had "complete power to pardon."

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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