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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Impeachment is bringing out President Trump's instincts as marketer in chief, as he seeks to turn a perilous, shame-inducing inquiry into an aggressive fundraising and mobilization tool.

Why it matters: Democrats competing for the chance to challenge Trump in the general election are getting a preview of how he may seek to upend and monetize their arguments against him.

The big picture: From merchandise to rally rhetoric to paid media strategy, a campaign official tells Axios that a lot of the ideas for responses are being generated by Trump himself.

  • His nearly three years on the job have helped him become an expert in framing his own missteps to his advantage.
  • While half the country already supported impeaching Trump and removing him from office, recent polling for CNN shows Democrats weren't able to expand that to a clearer majority after two weeks of public impeachment hearings. His backers see that as evidence that his counter-messaging has helped hold the line.

Merchandise: Recent additions to the Trump campaign's merchandise store include "Bull-Schiff" t-shirts demonizing House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and "Where's Hunter?" t-shirts mocking former Vice President Joe Biden's son.

  • Sources close to Trump's re-election campaign say the recent impeachment-focused merchandise has sold well and given the team an added bonus of tracking additional data about Trump supporters.

Facebook: The Trump campaign has been blitzing Facebook with ads urging supporters to "sign up" to fight impeachment.

  • The Trump campaign alone has spent nearly $2 million on impeachment ads on Facebook since Sept. 28, according to data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

TV: Republicans have spent $6.8 million on impeachment ads on television since Oct. 1, while Democrats have collectively spent $4.7 million, per Advertising Analytics.

  • Trump will air a reelection ad on Fox [Corrected] during the 2020 Super Bowl, per two sources familiar with the ad buy.
  • His campaign declined to comment on whether it would invest in further sports ads, but it made a similar ad buy during Game 7 of the this year's World Series.

Rallies: Trump has railed against impeachment at his rallies in the weeks since Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry.

The bottom line: This is classic Trump. He's continuing to upend traditional norms — and his base loves it.

Go deeper: The Trump show: a new drama

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
35 mins ago - Economy & Business

SoftBank and StubHub vets form new SPAC

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Jeffrey Housenbold, who recently stepped down as a managing partner of SoftBank Vision Fund, has formed a new SPAC with Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, who was president of ticket resale firm StubHub until it was acquired last year by Viagogo.

Why it matters: The death of SPACs has been greatly exaggerated.

52 mins ago - World

U.K. government sets out agenda in first COVID-era Queen's Speech

Queen Elizabeth II walks behind the Imperial State Crown in the Royal Gallery of Parliament. Photo: Richard Pohle/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II laid out the U.K. government's agenda at the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday, marking the first Queen's Speech since the pandemic began and her first major public appearance since the death of her husband, Prince Philip.

Why it matters: In a pared-back ceremony, the queen set out Prime Minister Boris Johnson's vision for recovering from a pandemic that inflicted the worst death toll in Europe and worst recession in 300 years.

The ransomware pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

"We are on the cusp of a global pandemic," said Christopher Krebs, the first director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told Congress last week. The virus causing the pandemic isn't biological, however. It's software.

Why it matters: Crippling a major U.S. oil pipeline this weekend initially looked like an act of war — but it's now looking like an increasingly normal crime, bought off-the-shelf from a "ransomware as a service" provider known as DarkSide.