Pa. House votes to impeach Philadelphia DA Krasner, measure moves forward to Senate trial

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 30: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media after a press conference announcing Danielle Outlaw as the new Police Commissioner on December 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Outlaw, Philadelph

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner faces a state Senate trial and possible removal from officer after the Republican-led state House voted Wednesday to impeach him over progressive policies he has enacted amid rising crime in the city.

Lawmakers voted 107-85 to impeach Krasner, setting the stage for what would be the first Pennsylvania Senate impeachment trial in nearly three decades. Republicans currently have a 29-21 majority in the state Senate, going to 28-22 early next year, and a two-thirds vote would be required to remove Krasner.

Krasner, who was overwhelmingly reelected by Philadelphia voters last year, is not accused of breaking the law. Instead, Republicans argued that he should be removed from office for various reasons, including his failure to prosecute some minor crimes and his bail request policies, his staff oversight and reports that his office didn't adequately notify crime victims about certain matters. They also alleged that Krasner obstructed the House's investigation of his office.

Krasner said in a statement that the vote was the only time the state House has ever "used the drastic remedy of impeachment of an elected official because they do not like their ideas."

"They have impeached me without presenting a single shred of evidence connecting our policies to any uptick in crime," he said.

The discussion of impeaching Krasner began in June when three Republican lawmakers, who do not represent the constituents of Philadelphia, announced plans to draft articles of impeachment against the two-term Democrat. In October, House Republicans introduced the impeachment resolution

"His lack of proper leadership serves as a direct and proximate cause of the crisis currently facing the city of Philadelphia," the resolution stated. 

State Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia, a prime sponsor of the impeachment resolution and a political ally of the city police union that has clashed with Krasner, said: "This man has denied that there is even a crisis of crime happening on our streets."

"No public official is above accountability, and if not for us in this chamber, he would have no oversight," White said.

Krasner has previously pushed back against the resolution and proceedings, saying he believes the effort to remove him and other progressive prosecutors is political. 

"Philadelphia voted for me overwhelmingly because they want what we are doing," Krasner said on Good Day Philadelphia. "When you bring change, the reality is that there are certain entities who don't want change." 

After the House Judiciary Committee moved the resolution forward to the House floor, his office published a series of statistics about the office’s record on crime. 

Democrats argued that Krasner was being scapegoated for wider problems with crime, that the case against him is weak and that his removal would be an abuse of legislative power. They said the lame duck session impeachment would overturn voters' will and that House Republicans have themselves failed to act to address gun violence.