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Presidential candidates fundraise off impeachment

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Presidential candidates are taking impeachment straight to the bank.

Democrats, Republicans and even the commander in chief himself are fundraising off the opening of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, after a whistleblower report claimed he pressured Ukraine’s leader into investigating Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden and his son.

Trump and Biden are latching on to the scandal to bring in donations — even as they navigate treacherous waters on the campaign trail and in Congress.

Trump’s re-election campaign is launching a $10 million ad buy blasting Biden on Sunday. They’re claiming the former vice president boasted about threatening to withhold foreign aid from Ukraine unless the country fired a prosecutor who was allegedly investigating the energy company his son, Hunter Biden, was associated with.

Biden said in one of several emails on the subject sent to supporters this week that Trump’s team is trying to “smear my name and hijack this election.”

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, facing stalled momentum, is also aiming to capitalize on impeachment as she feuds with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Musician Jon Bon Jovi sent a fundraising email Saturday on behalf of fellow New Jerseyan U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who put out a plea last week to raise $1.7 million in order to stay in the race. As of Saturday morning he’d reached more than $1.3 million of his goal.

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke took a more lighthearted approach to fueling donations ahead of Monday’s fundraising deadline. “Maybe I could do a Facebook live stream with a kitten in hand and say, ‘You know, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to this kitten now would we… Send your $5 now and Miss Whiskers will be fine,’ ” he wrote in an email to supporters.

He continued, “To be clear, we’re not planning on harming any kittens. But we do need your help.”

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All of the remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls are now backing impeachment.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, the last holdout, said this week, “I believe that if we do not proceed with the inquiry, it will set a very dangerous precedent.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the first of the major candidates to call for the House to begin impeachment proceedings after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia probe, said at a campaign event in Keene, N.H., earlier this week that “it is time for impeachment now.”

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The stage is set for the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate Oct. 15 in Ohio. A dozen candidates will appear on one night after Gabbard and California billionaire Tom Steyer crossed the polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify.

They’ll join the 10 candidates who appeared in the third debate in Houston: Biden; U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Warren, Harris, and Booker; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, O’Rourke, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

The Democratic National Committee raised its qualifying thresholds for the fifth debate in November. Candidates must receive 3% or more support in at least four qualifying polls, or 5% or more in two single-state polls in the four early nominating states. They’ll also need 165,000 unique donors, with at least 600 apiece from 20 states.

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