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

19 mins ago - Health

Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said "the short answer is yes" when asked whether Vice President Mike Pence is putting others at risk by continuing to campaign after several aides tested positive for COVID-19, stressing that the White House needs to be "very explicit about the risks that they're taking."

Why it matters: The New York Times reports that at least five members of Pence's inner circle, including his chief of staff Marc Short and outside adviser Marty Obst, have tested positive for the virus. Pence tested negative on Sunday morning, according to the VP's office, and will continue to travel for the final stretch of the 2020 campaign.

Pence to continue traveling despite aides testing positive for COVID-19

Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

AOC: "Extremely important" that Biden offer Bernie Sanders a Cabinet position

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.