Pennsylvania House fires Philly prosecutor for policies

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Philadelphia’s Democratic-elect prosecutor faces a trial in the state Senate and possible removal from office after the Republican-led State House voted Wednesday to remove him from office. progressive policies he adopted amid rising crime in the city.

The move to impeach District Attorney Larry Krasner began months ago and accelerated in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, with Republicans introducing the impeachment resolution late last month. But the 107-85 vote, close to the party line, marks a dramatic escalation in attacks on tough-on-crime policies against Democratic mayors and prosecutors who were previously largely confined to campaign politics.

The vote sets the stage for what would be Pennsylvania’s first Senate impeachment trial in nearly three decades. Republicans have a 29-21 majority in the state Senate that will grow to a 28-22 majority early next year, so they would need support from some Senate Democrats to achieve the required two-thirds majority. to impeach Krasner.

Krasner, who was overwhelmingly reelected by Philadelphia voters last year, is not charged with breaking the law. Instead, Republicans argued that he should be removed from office for a variety of reasons, including his inability to prosecute certain petty crimes and his bail-seeking policies, surveillance of his staff, and reports indicating that his office had not sufficiently informed victims of crime of certain issues. They also alleged that Krasner obstructed the House investigation into his office.

Krasner said in a statement that the vote was the only time the State House has ever “used the drastic remedy of impeaching an elected official because he doesn’t like his ideas.”

“They impeached me without presenting any evidence linking our policies to an increase in crime,” he said.

Democrats said lawmakers removed just two officials — both judges — by impeachment: the first county judge in 1811 and then state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen in 1994.

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

“No official is above responsibility, and without us in this chamber they would have no control,” White said.

Former District Attorney Representative Tim Bonner, R-Mercer, said “lawlessness and violence will prevail” if elected leaders can choose which laws to uphold or enforce.

“Nobody has the right to strike down laws in Congress or the General Assembly because they just don’t like the law. No one has that degree of absolute power,” Bonner said.

Democrats argued that Krasner was a scapegoat for broader crime issues, that the case against him was weak, and that impeachment would be an abuse of legislative power. They said impeachment of the lame duck session would overturn the will of voters and that House Republicans themselves have failed to act to address gun violence.

“You’re doing the wrong thing,” said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia. “I’m going to be generous and say maybe you’re making a mistake. But if you look at what’s before us, and when we think of the sacred obligation that we have as members of this august body, that’s not what we should be doing.

State Representative Mike Zabel, a Democrat from Philadelphia who served as the city’s assistant district attorney under Krasner’s predecessor in office, said Krasner was unfairly blamed for things that were not entirely his fault.

“The truth is that prosecuting crimes in one of the largest cities in the country is a complex task with an endless parade of challenges,” Zabel said, urging fellow lawmakers to “take a break from the politics of tightrope”.

It’s unclear when the state senate will launch a lawsuit. The two-year legislative session ends in two weeks, but the house’s leading Republican, State Sen. Kim Ward of Westmoreland County, said this week she intended to add days to the session to address the issue. The process should not end quickly.

The resolution directed the Speaker of the House, currently a Republican, to appoint two members of the majority party and one representative of the minority party to handle the matter in the Senate. It’s unclear how that might be affected if Democrats reclaim a majority in the House next year, as seems increasingly likely.

Krasner is not the first liberal prosecutor to be criticized. San Francisco voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin in June and an effort to recall Democratic Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón failed this summer when organizers were unable to get him listed. on the ballot.

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