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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

The Exvangelicals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even as evangelicals maintain their position as the most popular religion in the U.S., a movement of self-described "exvangelicals" is breaking away, using social media to engage tens of thousands of former faithful.

The big picture: Donald Trump's presidency, as well as movements around LGBTQ rights, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, drew more Americans into evangelical churches while also pushing some existing members away.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

5 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.