Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s impeachment trial is expected to begin in the Pennsylvania Senate in January, a spokesperson said Wednesday, as officials released a statement offering some clarity on expected next steps in the unprecedented effort to remove the city’s top prosecutor from office.
Erica Clayton Wright, spokesperson for Senate Republicans, said the chamber will meet Tuesday and Wednesday next week to begin handling procedural matters in the case, including setting rules for the trial and formally accepting articles of impeachment from the state House. The lower chamber’s Republican majority has accused Krasner, a Democrat, of fueling the city’s surge in homicides, mishandling criminal cases, and violating the rights of crime victims, among other offenses — accusations Krasner has vehemently denied.
Senators next week are also expected to vote on a resolution notifying Krasner of the charges against him and giving him until Dec. 21 to respond in writing, Clayton Wright said.
Krasner will then be summoned to appear at his trial, which is expected to begin Jan. 18. Clayton Wright did not say how long the trial might last nor how exactly it was expected to unfold, but said the Senate would proceed as required by, and outlined in, the state constitution. Removal from office would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, where Republicans will hold 28 of 50 seats next year — five votes shy of the threshold if every member is present to vote.
“The Senate’s Constitutional obligations are clear, so we are prepared to fulfill our duties and continue the impeachment process,” Jake Corman, the outgoing Senate president pro tempore, said in a statement.
Jane Roh, a spokesperson for Krasner’s office, declined to comment Wednesday. It was not clear if Krasner might seek to further challenge the impending proceedings in court. The DA has repeatedly slammed the drive to remove him as illegal and antidemocratic, and has already filed one lawsuit saying the House has no authority to impeach him, and didn’t accuse him of any impeachable offense. On Monday, Krasner said other legal challenges were being considered, though he didn’t provide details.
The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines last week to impeach Krasner, accusing him of seven offenses, including that he has mismanaged his office, implemented policies that have failed to keep residents safe, obstructed a legislative committee investigating his office, and violated the rules of professional conduct in two criminal cases.
Krasner has denied each of the charges while casting the GOP’s effort as a dangerous attempt to remove an officeholder over ideological disagreements — and saying the process threatens to disenfranchise city voters who overwhelmingly reelected him last year.
At an anti-impeachment rally on Monday, Krasner said: “Never in the history of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania has there ever been an effort to impeach, charge, or remove someone from office for their policies. This is something you do for crimes.”
Removal through impeachment has been rarely used in Pennsylvania. The last person to be impeached and ousted was Rolf Larsen, a onetime state Supreme Court justice, who in 1994 was removed for making legal decisions based on improper conversations with a political supporter.
The only other examples of impeachments that led to removals occurred more than 200 years ago.
In this instance, legislative Democrats have criticized House Republicans for moving forward on impeachment while failing to consider other public safety issues, such as gun safety legislation. And they have said the GOP advanced the articles of impeachment after watching their 23-seat majority in the House get erased in the midterm election — a result that will give Democrats narrow control of the chamber in January.
Staff writer Anna Orso contributed to this article.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct number of seats Republicans will hold in the state Senate next year.