PA House delivers final vote to impeach District Attorney Larry Krasner
The full House voted to impeach, and it now heads to the state senate for a trial.
The full Pennsylvania House voted in favor of impeaching Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Wednesday, Nov. 16. This comes a day after the GOP-led committee approved articles of impeachment against Krasner for whom it blames for the rise in crime in Philadelphia.
It will now be sent off to the state senate for a trial that will decide Krasner’s fate.
The mostly Republican House accused the DA of “misbehavior in office,” which alone is in line with the state constitution as a credible basis for impeachment. In the state’s history, impeachment has never occurred to an elected official. In the few instances where impeachment did take place — just twice in more than 200 years — the officials were guilty of criminal acts.
The GOP committee reiterated that the articles do not accuse Krasner of a crime, but that the misbehavior that they described Krasner of engaging in, is what has led to the rise in crime in Philadelphia in their eyes. The Republican-led endeavor has been trying to oust the District Attorney for months now.
The PA House introduced a resolution in which seven offenses were listed, such as accusations that the DA’s actions or lack thereof, have escalated Philly’s rise in murders and homicides, obstruction of a legislative investigation into his office, and botched a number of criminal cases, including the trial of former city police officer Ryan Pownall, who was accused of murder.
House Speaker Bryan Cutler was fiery on the floor as he condemned Krasner and his office, saying it is illegal for the DA introduce and authorize policies that would decriminalize or minimize certain crimes like theft, drug possession, and prostitution.
”We don’t get to ignore laws,” Cutler said. “If we want to change them, we should amend and legislate them differently, not allow one rogue county… to go off the rails and jeopardize the citizens who live there.”
While Republican majority leader Rep. Kerry Benninghoff added that the party was standing up for “those who do not have a voice,” whether they live in Philadelphia or not.
“It is saddening and it doesn’t matter what the geography is. It should upset all Pennsylvanians,” he said. “And that’s what this resolution is about. It says enough is enough.
Even with the GOP majority in the chamber, the House floor today was in a big disagreement and arguments were tense before a 107-85 vote largely along party lines. GOP officials reiterated their stance today that impeachment was necessary. They accuse Krasner of implementing criminal justice reform policies that as a result have only compounded the city’s endemic gun violence issue, and aggravated it.
Krasner released a statement shortly after the news broke, going at the Republican House members, saying that in the state’s nearly 300-year existence, this is the only time the House has tried to impeach an elected official “because they do not like their ideas.”
"Those ideas are precisely why Philadelphia voters elected and re-elected me to serve as the Philly DA — in two landslides. They have impeached me without presenting a single shred of evidence connecting our policies to any uptick in crime,” Krasner said. “We were never given the opportunity to defend our ideas and policies — policies I would have been proud to explain. That Pennsylvania Republicans willfully avoided hearing the facts about my office is shameful.”
Democrats in the House have defended Krasner and have criticized Republicans for trying to get an impeachment trial to happen in the final days of the legislative session before going to recess until the New Year. It is also possible in the aftermath of the 2022 midterms that the GOP could likely lose its majority in the state house for the first time in more than a decade.
Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Joanna McClinton said House Republicans are trying to overturn the votes of city residents who re-elected Krasner last year in a landslide win. She went on to compare their actions to other GOP-led attempts to overturn election results.
”Unfortunately, when you do not like what occurred in the outcome of an election, there has been a decision in the grand ol’ party to subvert the will of the voters,” McClinton said. “And we see that here today with this so-called impeachment.”
As impeachment is now closer to happening than ever before, how or when the Senate trial will take place is still unclear. Before Krasner can be officially ousted from office, several steps must take place in which many of them can and are likely to be challenged in court.
"Each Philadelphia voter is not just 3/5ths of a voter. Philadelphia is not Pennsylvania's colony. Philadelphians get taxation AND representation. Philadelphians' votes, and Philadelphia voters, should not be erased. History will harshly judge this anti-Democratic authoritarian effort to erase Philly's votes — votes by Black, brown, and broke people in Philadelphia. And voters will have the last word,” Krasner concluded.