In a 107-85 vote, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D). The seven articles of impeachment are now going to the Senate for trial.
The vote concluded a months-long investigation by a House Select Committee examining the city’s recent surge in violence and what role Krasner’s conduct may have played. The committee heard heartbreaking testimony from witnesses who accused Krasner of not seeking justice for crime victims, even as homicides, shootings, and carjackings soared.
Krasner is a former defense lawyer, whose progressive policies align with a group of other district attorneys whose campaigns were funded by money from Democrat megadonor George Soros. When the articles were introduced by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) last month, he called it “devastating to democracy and it shows how far toward fascism the Republican Party is creeping.”
White said the House had no choice.
“The information that was contained in the most recent preliminary report was so egregious to me I felt compelled to drop these articles of impeachment,” she said, referencing an interim report that outlined findings but did not include a recommendation of impeachment. “Mr. Krasner has proven himself derelict in his duties as the District Attorney of Philadelphia by inappropriately using prosecutorial discretion to act against the public’s interest.”
The seven articles introduced as amendments by Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams) list instances of “misbehavior in office,” ranging from the initial refusal to comply with the House Select Committee’s subpoenas to misleading both judges and crime victims in some cases. Another alleges Krasner made some crimes, like prostitution, theft, and drug offenses, “de facto legal” by refusing to prosecute them.
Unlike the most recent impeachment by the Pennsylvania House, when Justice Rolf Larsen was removed from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1994 following a conviction on criminal conspiracy charges related to prescription drugs, there is no criminal charge associated with the articles being sent to the Senate.
The votes were largely along party lines, with Rep. Mike Puskaric (R-Allegheny) voting against adding the amendments and passing the resolution.
Democrats accused Republicans of attempting to undermine an election held in Philadelphia. They also warned the impeachment would create a dangerous precedent. Rep. Mike Zabel (D-Delaware) provided some context from his days working in the District Attorney’s Office under Seth Williams (D). He referenced his high caseloads and all the different circumstances that could prevent convictions.
“The truth is prosecuting crimes in one of the largest cities in the country is a complex task with a never-ending parade of challenges,” he said. “There’s a myriad of factors that affect the outcome of every single criminal case…These articles attempt to pin the entirety of fault and blame on a single man for the challenges in a sprawling and endlessly complex criminal justice system.”
Following the vote, Krasner released a statement via Twitter. “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 won re-election by a wide margin in an election with an extremely low turnout. White noted only 7.6 percent of the total population voted for Krasner in last November’s election.
Conviction and removal from office would require 34 guilty votes in a Senate with just 28 Republicans. If Krasner is convicted, he would be just the second person impeached and removed from office in the legislature’s 340-year history.