Pa. House committee set to vote on impeaching Philly DA Larry Krasner
If the Republican-controlled committee approves the articles of impeachment, they would move to the full House for consideration.
A Pennsylvania state House committee on Tuesday is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment filed against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a move that could bring the city’s top prosecutor a step closer to being impeached.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the matter Tuesday morning, marking the latest step in the Republican-led effort to impeach Krasner, a Democrat. The articles accuse him of implementing policies that have contributed to a rise in violent crime and of obstructing a legislative committee investigating his office.
The move would mark a significant chapter in the unprecedented legislative effort to remove Krasner from office — but would also be just one step in what could be a lengthy and litigious process.
It would come amid sustained opposition by Democrats, who have said the GOP is attempting to impeach a political opponent over ideological disagreements. And though the issue has been bubbling in the Capitol for several months, a vote Tuesday could come in the waning days of Republican control in the House: Democrats outperformed expectations in last week’s election and are within one seat of taking control of the chamber for the first time in more than a decade.
Krasner has steadfastly defended his office’s record and slammed the impeachment drive as both a political stunt and an illegal effort to overturn the will of Philadelphia voters. He said he has not obstructed the legislature but has used legal means to challenge efforts to investigate him.
Jane Roh, a spokesperson for Krasner’s office, said in an email Monday evening that House Republicans were “spending their final days in a lame duck majority fighting a lost cause” and “are proving yet again that they have no desire to govern responsibly.”
Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for House Republicans, said: “This has been and is about lives and protecting Philadelphians who not only deserve to feel safe, but be safe in their communities.”
Asked about the notion that a Republican majority could be seeking to approve a controversial measure in the final days the caucus might control the chamber, Gottesman said: “Members of the House are elected to their positions through the end of their term. Up until then, they have the ability to exercise every part and power of their office.”
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a Philadelphia Democrat, had a different interpretation, writing on Twitter: “These utterly disgraceful political stunts are exactly why the House GOP members lost so many seats last week.”
If the GOP-controlled committee advances the articles of impeachment, the issue would move to the full House, where impeachment would require approval by a simple majority. Such a vote could happen as soon as this week; the House is currently scheduled only to be in session again Tuesday and Wednesday before adjourning until next year.
If the measure passes, a trial would happen in the Senate, and conviction would require a two-thirds vote in the upper chamber for Krasner to be removed from office.
If the issue advances that far, it would almost certainly encounter legal challenges. The last time impeachment was used to oust a state official was in 1994, when Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen was removed for making legal decisions based on conversations with a political supporter and after he was convicted in a drug-related conspiracy.
The articles of impeachment against Krasner were introduced in October by State Rep. Martina White, a Philadelphia Republican who unveiled them two weeks before the midterm election alongside a bevy of lawmakers and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R., Centre).
White said Krasner’s progressive policies had “toppled the scales of justice in favor of criminals.”
The legislation came just two days after the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, which was formed in July to investigate Krasner’s office and its response to crime in the city, released a critical report.
It highlighted issues including a declining conviction rate, an increasing number of firearms cases being withdrawn or dismissed, and high staff turnover. The committee did not recommend impeaching Krasner.
Benninghoff said last month that crime in Philadelphia had created a dire situation and that lawmakers couldn’t wait any longer to act.
Within hours, statewide Republicans tied the impeachment drive to the midterm election and linked Krasner to other Democrats at the top of the ticket. The two Democrats most frequently targeted in those efforts — Josh Shapiro, the nominee for governor, and John Fetterman, the nominee for U.S. Senate — won their contests.