The moment many long expected came with a bit of surprise Wednesday morning as House Republicans in Harrisburg filed articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
While impeachment was an assumed end goal of the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order – the committee tasked with investigating crime during Krasner’s tenure – an interim report released by the committee Monday didn’t signal actions would be taken this week.
State Rep. Martina White, the lone Republican legislator from Philadelphia, is the prime sponsor of the articles of impeachment. White, during a Wednesday morning press conference, said additional articles of impeachment could be coming depending on further findings by the select committee.
“Larry Krasner is the top law enforcement official who is supposed to be representing the interests of our commonwealth in Philadelphia criminal cases. His dereliction of duty and despicable behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” White said Wednesday.
House Republicans highlighted the rising crime and gun violence rates in Philadelphia and blamed Krasner’s progressive policies for the recent surges. While stopping short of claiming Krasner has violated the law, state Rep. Torren Ecker, an Adams County Republican and member of the Select Committee, said Krasner’s misbehavior in office warrants removal from office.
“It's clear, under the constitution, that misbehavior in office is the standard (for impeachment) … Misbehavior in office is the standard,” Ecker said. “These articles of impeachment will clearly define what misbehavior in office is and the fact that the district attorney has violated that provision in the constitution.”
This move is the latest of several developments regarding the investigation of Krasner this week.
On Monday, the House Select Committee investigating Krasner’s office released an interim report critical of his office’s prosecutorial work. The report didn’t accuse Krasner of criminal misconduct nor did it recommend impeachment.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve a measure that would direct a separate committee to study how the district attorney’s office has used a range of funds, while also pushing the state auditor general to audit Krasner’s office.
The impeachment announcement also comes less than two weeks before Election Day amid a cycle dominated by issues related to gun violence and public safety.
Throughout the committee’s work, GOP lawmakers have bashed Krasner – who challenged the committee’s validity in Commonwealth Court – for failing to comply with subpoenas and requests for information.
Last week, Krasner – who said he had communicated with the committee about testifying during a private executive session on Friday – said those plans fell apart after he requested access to a full recording of the testimony that he could share with the public. He has also called this process a “political stunt,” stating that House Republicans are attempting to erase the votes of Philadelphians, who fairly elected him twice.
Krasner has also noted that Philadelphia is not an anomaly and that gun violence and crime statistics are on the rise around the commonwealth and country as a whole.
Last week, he said that from 2019 to 2021, Philadelphia saw a 58% increase in murders. During the same period, Washington County saw an 800% increase in murders, Beaver County saw a 250% increase in murders and Adams County saw a 300% increase in murders.
Were the House to proceed with the articles of impeachment, the resolution would need to be approved by the full House through a simple majority vote. From there, a trial would take place in the state Senate, where removal from office would require a two-thirds vote.
With just three days remaining on the House calendar this year, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said House Speaker Bryan Cutler would consider extending the legislative session to consider the impeachment process.