Trump impeachment battle hits TV ads

Trump impeachment battle hits TV ads
© Aaron Schwartz
The fight over impeachment is coming to a television set near you.
In the two weeks since Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) said the House would open an impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE, the Trump campaign and several outside groups have spent more than $8.3 million on television advertisements related to the probe.
Trump’s campaign has spent almost $4 million on three separate ads, according to the nonpartisan tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
Those TV spots have sought to turn the inquiry back onto former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Democrat representing Pennsylvania district Trump carried plans to vote to impeach  MORE, the focus of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump's efforts to pressure Zelensky to launch an investigation into Biden his son Hunter have become the impetus for the impeachment inquiry.
“Joe Biden promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” one of the advertisements says. “But when President Trump asks Ukraine to investigate corruption, the Democrats want to impeach him, and their media lapdogs fall in line. They lost the election, now they want to steal this one.”
Ukrainian officials have said there is no evidence that Biden or his son were implicated in any wrongdoing. The United States was one of many Ukrainian allies that wanted the prosecutor ousted, specifically for his disinclination to pursue corruption charges.
Kyle Roberts, the president and chief executive at Advertising Analytics, said he expects to see more spending as the impeachment inquiry dominates more of the news coverage.
In a sign of just how widespread the impeachment debate is likely to become, both Republican and Democratic outside groups are using the impeachment battle to target House and Senate incumbents seeking reelection next year.
“Instead of fixing health care and lowering drug prices, Delgado votes with the radicals for endless investigations of President Trump, wasting tax dollars. Instead of working to create more jobs, Delgado wants more hearings,” an RNC ad says.
House Majority Forward, a group that helps protect House Democrats, has purchased its own air time defending those 13 members. The ads have not yet been released, but the group has laid down $1.5 million for rebuttals.
Need To Impeach, the group funded by billionaire hedge fund manager and presidential candidate Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerKrystal Ball: Influx of billionaire cash in 2020 contest is 'deeply corrosive' to 'civil society' Booker says he will not make December debate stage Democrats set early state primary debates for 2020 MORE, released its own ads on Friday targeting three potentially vulnerable Republican senators — Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Maine), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstWhite House makes push for paid family leave and child care reform Houston police chief stands by criticism of McConnell, Cruz, Cornyn: 'This is not political' Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Iowa) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyWhite House makes push for paid family leave and child care reform The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Ariz.).
“How can we have a president who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him? Who would bargain away the security of our nation and our elections for his own political gain?” the Need to Impeach ad in Arizona says. “Tell Martha McSally to put country over party.”
Steyer’s group has purchased more than $625,000 in airtime in those three states.
The race to define the contours of an impeachment inquiry is a familiar playbook. Then-House Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE used investigations into Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Lawmakers clash on Trump, Clinton impeachment comparisons Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment MORE’s misconduct as a centerpiece of the GOP’s television ad campaign in 1998, when the House voted to open an impeachment inquiry into the president about a month before the midterm elections.
But that example also offers a cautionary lesson for Democrats now pursuing Trump’s impeachment: In those midterm elections, Democrats gained five seats. Gingrich, under pressure for his decision to focus solely on impeachment, did not seek another term as House speaker.