Republican-led PA House Committee approves articles of impeachment against DA Larry Krasner
The motion will now head to the House for final consideration, where a majority vote is required to impeach.
A months-long GOP-led endeavor to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner made significant headway on Tuesday morning, Nov. 15. A Pennsylvania State House committee led by House Republicans approved articles of impeachment against Krasner that will now make its way to the full House for a final vote as early as this week.
In recent months, Republicans have blamed Krasner for the rise in crime, most specifically the continued rise in gun violence that has become endemic in Philadelphia. The GOP committee’s conclusion is to call for Krasner’s impeachment. The District Attorney, who was first elected to this position back in 2017, has called the impeachment effort "pure politics" and has "nothing to do with public safety."
The mostly GOP House Judiciary Committee voted to approve the articles in which they accuse Krasner of imposing certain policies that in their eyes have only added to the rise in crime in addition to attempting to block a committee's investigation into his office to which Krasner has denied.
Rep. Martina White, the Republican who first introduced the legislation, testified before the committee Tuesday morning and pointed to Krasner’s crime and prosecution statistics since he has been in office. She said the DA’s office has “inappropriately” used prosecutorial discretion, in addition to failure to suitably answer to the rising gun violence in the city and the overall issue of public safety to Philly residents.
Following the committee's vote to send the article to the full House, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania tweeted out in support of Krasner.
"As we've been saying since the start of his sham impeachment effort targeting DA Krasner, this is both a clear political attack on a duly elected official and an effort to disenfranchise the voters of Philadelphia who reelected Mr. Krasner just last year. The election last week was a clear rejection of the type of fear-mongering and tough-on-crime rhetoric that those leading the impeachment effort continue to sell. The people aren't buying it," Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of PA said. "Democracy won last Tuesday, but it seems like Republicans in the state House must have missed the news. This impeachment effort is anti-democratic on its own, but when you consider that those leading this effort rushed to hold a vote even as the balance of power remains undecided in the state House is remarkably cynical."
An impeachment of an elected official is a rare occurrence in the state as the last one to be impeached was a federal judge in 1994, Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen who was actually guilty of a crime. Prior to that, the last instance happened more than 200 years ago in 1811 to County Judge Thomas Cooper.
Many House Democrats in Tuesday’s meeting went against their colleagues' thinking in regards to pushing impeachment on an elected official who technically has not committed a crime or engaged in criminal acts, as such was the case with the previous impeachment of a federal judge nearly 30 years ago.
"A ‘no’ vote doesn't mean that you like Larry Krasner, doesn't mean you think he's doing a good job… what a ‘no’ vote means is that there's a limit to the partisan games I'm willing to play,” Democrat Rep. Mike Zabel told the committee. Democrat Rep. Jared Solomon added that while Krasner’s time in office has been inadequate, his behavior isn’t criminal.
Democrat Rep. Emily Kinkead also came to Krasner’s defense and went at White who first introduced the legislation.
"She (Rep. White) presented an incredibly emotionally compelling argument but it was completely devoid of actual facts,” Kinkead said.
Despite this pushback, the GOP-led committee reiterated that while the articles do not accuse Krasner of a crime, they do however accuse him of “misbehavior in office,” that has led to the rise in crime in their eyes and just the misbehavior alone are in line with the state constitution as a credible basis for impeachment.
The full House can deliver a final vote as soon as this week as the House is currently scheduled to be in session today and tomorrow before going to recess until the New Year. In the trial, it would require two-thirds of the Senate to approve the impeachment charges to remove the DA from office. That is 34 of the 50 senators who would have to vote guilty.
Should the House approve the vote, there could be political and even legal pushback from Democrats who over the course of this saga have accused the GOP committee of attempting to push forward a measure in the final days of a two-year legislative session in addition to the GOP potentially losing majority control of the House following these latest 2022 midterm elections.