epublican leaders in Pennsylvania's GOP-controlled legislature says it will proceed with impeachment and removal of Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner for the heinous crime of executing prosecutorial discretion while being a progressive Democrat.
Pennsylvania Republicans announced Wednesday plans to impeach and potentially remove from office Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a national leader among progressive prosecutors who was overwhelmingly re-elected last year.
Krasner is not accused of committing a crime. Nor do his critics allege corruption. Instead, they accuse him of dereliction of duty for what they say is a failure to adequately enforce criminal laws, leading to rising crime rates and declining quality of life for Philadelphians.
The extraordinary move — the state Legislature has impeached only two officials in its entire history, in 1994 and 1811 — comes just two weeks before a midterm election in which Republicans have focused on crime while Democrats have highlighted threats to democracy from politicians willing to defy elections.
It also comes as progressive prosecutors and recent criminal justice reforms have faced blowback due to rising crime.
“I recognize the unprecedented nature of what must be done and am confident our members are up to the task,” Republican Rep. Martina White said at a news conference Wednesday announcing articles of impeachment at the state Capitol in Harrisburg.
Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature, but White is the only GOP member from Philadelphia, which is on pace to break last year’s record-setting homicide rate.
The rest hail from other, largely rural parts of the state.
“There should be a war on crime. But due to the failed vision and his idea of criminal justice, crime is allowed to wage war on the good people and the great beautiful city of Philadelphia," Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said of Krasner at the news conference.
Pennsylvania’s Constitution gives the Legislature broad power to impeach “all civil officers” for “any misbehavior in office,” though it has almost never exercised that authority.
“It’s clear under the Constitution that 'misbehavior in office' is the standard,” said Republican Rep. Torren Ecker, when asked by reporters what impeachable offense Krasner had committed. “Failing to do his duty and uphold the law — that is the very definition of misbehavior.”
The Legislature is scheduled to recess the Wednesday before the Nob. 8 election, but Republican leaders said they will add extra days to the calendar if necessary to make sure an impeachment vote happens as soon as possible.
They insisted the move against Krasner and its timing is not about politics, but about the need to offer some relief to Philadelphians struggling against crime every day.
“Our caucus has been constantly concerned with crime. It has nothing to do with the election,” Benninghoff said.
Krasner traveled to Harrisburg Friday to try to meet with GOP leaders and protest the anticipated impeachment articles.
"This is an effort to impeach someone for political purposes who has done nothing corrupt and nothing illegal because they want to erase Philadelphia’s votes, straight up," he said. "They want to impeach our ideas."
Krasner noted that the state Legislature has taken no action against a Republican district attorney in western Pennsylvania's Somerset County who was arrested last year on rape charges (he has pleaded not guilty and a trial is expected in January) and then again this year in an alleged road rage incident targeting a witness in the first incident (he pleaded guilty to lesser charges).
"There is no effort whatsoever to even look at the possibility of an impeachment of this man," Krasner said of the Somerset prosecutor, who was suspended last year but is now suing the county for back pay because his lawyer argues he can only be terminated by impeachment.