Politics|Trump and 2020 Democrats Agree: Impeachment Fight Is a Chance to Rake In Cash
The breathless text message from President Trump and his campaign landed soon after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry: “I need you on my Impeachment Defense Team.”
Within three hours of Ms. Pelosi’s announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Trump had raised $1 million, and his campaign manager said on Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee had raised $5 million in 24 hours. “Huge groundswell of support,” wrote Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, on Twitter.
The impeachment fight between the Democratic-led House of Representatives and the Trump White House may have initiated a constitutional clash, but for the political operatives involved in the 2020 campaign it also represents a potentially galvanizing moment to pry loose wallets.
In a flurry of tweets, text messages and emails, Mr. Trump has pressed his millions of supporters to donate to protect his hold on the presidency.
At times, the Trump campaign almost seemed to mock the allegations that he improperly sought assistance from a foreign nation against a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in a call with the president of Ukraine.
One email from Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee arrived with the paper clip symbol and the words “Call Transcript” in the subject line, suggesting there was an attachment. There was no attachment. Instead, Mr. Trump was seeking “charter members” for his “Official Impeachment Defense Task Force” against a Democratic “smear job.”
At least initially, most Democrats were less explicit than Mr. Trump in seeking to monetize the impeachment push, with several emailing their lists of supporters to first ask them to sign impeachment petitions, rather than asking directly for donations.
But money still flowed: The online ticker for ActBlue, the company that processes most online Democratic donations, showed that Tuesday was one of the bigger fund-raising days in recent months that was not linked to a Democratic debate or a monthly deadline. The site showed $4.6 million in donations on Tuesday, after $4.2 million on Monday.
All the 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns use ActBlue, as do most Democratic House and Senate candidates.
The Democratic National Committee said a text message it sent out on Tuesday evening raised more money than any of its previous texting efforts. “URGENT: Stand with Speaker Pelosi as the House moves forward with an official impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump,” the message read.
The D.N.C. also said that Tuesday was its best fund-raising day of the month. (Notably, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for House Democrats, has so far not included impeachment in its fund-raising solicitations.)
Mr. Biden finds himself in a particularly unusual situation. Following the revelation that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated corruption allegations about Mr. Biden and his son, Mr. Biden’s campaign has pushed supporters to stand with him — financially.
“Disgusting,” read one email subject line. “About Ukraine,” said another.
“Donald Trump asked a foreign leader eight times to investigate my family,” one appeal read. “But I’m only going to ask you once: Please, I need you with me at this critical moment. Chip in to my campaign tonight.”
A Biden adviser said the campaign had tripled its daily online fund-raising average on Saturday, though the adviser didn’t respond Wednesday morning when asked whether that pace had continued.
The campaign also sent a fund-raising email Tuesday evening suggesting that Mr. Biden’s sliding poll numbers were a bigger problem than Mr. Trump’s foreign dealings.
“Look, here’s the bad news: Trump is using the Oval Office to pressure a foreign power into interfering in the 2020 election,” the email said. “And it gets even worse: A new poll has us down in Iowa, a key first state in this Primary race.”
The release on Wednesday of a reconstructed transcript of the call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine could add further fund-raising fodder.
“BREAKING: Trump memo bombshell,” read an email from the campaign of Senator Kamala Harris of California. Inside, the campaign urged supporters to “rush a contribution to Kamala’s presidential campaign to elect a president who will fight for truth, justice and the rule of law — and defeat the lawless one we have now.”
Ms. Harris was also running an ad on Facebook targeting Iowa voters, in which she called for impeachment proceedings in a video.
The campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who saw a fund-raising bump when she called for impeachment in April, is using the issue to try to expand its email list, running Facebook ads on the subject.
“The impeachment inquiry must move forward with the efficiency and seriousness this crisis demands,” Ms. Warren says in an ad that began running on Tuesday. “The House needs to vote on articles of impeachment — and when it comes to the Senate, I will do what the Constitution requires. Sign up now if you’re with me.”
Ms. Warren’s campaign has been spending modestly on impeachment-related Facebook ads for months, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital communications firm. From late April to mid-September, her campaign spent an estimated $133,000 on Facebook ads about impeachment, according to the firm. But that represented only about 8 percent of her overall spending on Facebook during that period.
Katie Glueck, Thomas Kaplan and Rachel Shorey contributed reporting.
Shane Goldmacher is a national political reporter and was previously the chief political correspondent for the Metro Desk. Before joining The Times, he worked at Politico, where he covered national Republican politics and the 2016 presidential campaign. @ShaneGoldmacher