Steyer's impeachment campaign to launch ad targeting Republicans after Cohen hearing

Steyer's impeachment campaign to launch ad targeting Republicans after Cohen hearing
© Greg Nash

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer is turning his "Need to Impeach" campaign on key Republican lawmakers he accuses of enabling President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE.

Steyer will make an initial $100,000 investment in digital ads and one week of television airtime to start Wednesday in two Republican districts as part of his "Need to Impeach" campaign. The ad will be the campaign’s first to focus on urging Republican voters to hold Trump accountable through their representatives.

The ad will air in Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties GOP lawmakers lay out border security proposals for DHS Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 'time out' on facial recognition tech | DHS asks cybersecurity staff to volunteer for border help | Judge rules Qualcomm broke antitrust law | Bill calls for 5G national security strategy MORE (R), and North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 'time out' on facial recognition tech | DHS asks cybersecurity staff to volunteer for border help | Judge rules Qualcomm broke antitrust law | Bill calls for 5G national security strategy Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech DeVos family of Michigan ends support for Amash MORE (R). The two House Freedom Caucus leaders are among the president’s staunchest allies and were central figures in last week’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing with former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. 

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The ad, titled "History," is 30 seconds long and warns that Republicans will be sorted into those who "let politics scare them out of holding Trump accountable" and "those who had the courage to stand up and defend our democracy." It features images of Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNew Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes Graham: 'US must be willing to intervene in Venezuela' Trump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' MORE (R-S.C.) and Jordan, as well as GOP Senate leadership.

An image of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' Meghan McCain says Ben Carson should be developing brain cancer treatment, not working at HUD Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats MORE (R-Ariz.) appears in sync with the word "courage." 

"Republicans in Congress should support impeachment hearings to uncover the truth," the ad states. "But first they have a choice to make: Which side of history do they want to be on?"

Kevin Mack, the lead strategist for Need to Impeach, told The Hill that the decision to run the ad on TV in Jordan’s and Meadows’s districts was spurred by their prominent defense of Trump during the Cohen hearing, calling the lawmakers "two of Trump’s biggest enablers."

“I think Republicans need to understand that it’s not OK to lie, cheat and steal in the United States of America,” Mack said. “Republicans that are looking the other way as Donald Trump does those three things are now part of the cover-up.”

Cohen testified last week that Trump is a "racist" and a "con man." The longtime Trump associate implicated the president in potentially criminal activity, including bank fraud and campaign finance law violations.

Jordan sought to portray the hearing as part of an effort to impeach Trump, noting that Steyer held a town hall event in committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now House Democrats, Trump lawyers ask appeals court to expedite subpoena case Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech MORE's (D-Md.) district days earlier.

Steyer has dedicated millions of dollars to the "Need to Impeach" campaign, criss-crossing the country to drum up support for removing Trump from office.

Mack said "Need to Impeach" will review the response to the ad following its first week, at which point the campaign may invest in additional screen time. The campaign could spend up to seven figures to promote the ad, Mack said. 

“It’s important to note that we’re focusing on Republican voters in Republican districts,” he said. “In some ways it’s less about the actual members and more about the voters. We’re basing the imagery, the wording and the call to action on testing we’ve done in these districts.” 

Mack suggested that "Need to Impeach" could plan advertisements in additional GOP districts, depending on how future oversight hearings play out in Congress.

Cohen's testimony last week reinvigorated the call from some Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings, but party leaders have sought to tamp down such discussions. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who would oversee impeachment hearings, said Monday that Congress is still "far from" such an event, and that his committee will instead focus on gathering evidence through a sweeping investigation of the president's administration, campaign and businesses.