Pennsylvania

‘This is something you do for crimes’

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who was indicted by the Pennsylvania State House last week, denounced the charges against him as Republican-led efforts to disenfranchise the city’s voters and said the push to remove him from office set a dangerous precedent.

During a press conference Monday at Philadelphia City Hall, Krasner and more than a dozen of his political allies said the prosecutor did not commit any crimes that could be charged with impeachment but was charged with implementing progressive policies.

“Never in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has there been an attempt to indict, impeach or remove anyone for their policies,” said Krasner, a Democrat. “It’s something you do for crime.”

The seven counts allege a range of allegations, including that Krasner’s reformist policies fueled the city’s gun violence crisis and that his office mishandled criminal cases. They also allege Krasner obstructed a House committee formed this summer to investigate him.

The district attorney’s comments come as Republicans in Harrisburg prepare to submit their impeachment case to the state senate, where a trial would take place. The timing is uncertain, and Krasner said he has not received any information on when it might take place or how to defend himself.

House Republicans on Friday appointed three executives — two Republicans and one Democrat — to bring the case to the upper chamber, but no one was sure whether it would be brought before the end of that legislative session on Nov. 30 or delayed until next year would become .

Impeachment would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate, where Republicans hold 28 of 50 seats.

» READ MORE: Philly DA Larry Krasner has been charged. Here’s what you should know.

The impeachment proceedings are not only politically charged, but also brought before a court. Krasner has already filed a lawsuit on the matter, arguing in September that a Legislative Committee seeking grounds for impeachment is illegal. He said Monday that other legal challenges are being considered but gave no details.

Joining him in the ornate mayor’s reception room at City Hall were criminal justice reform activists, gun violence prevention advocates and progressive elected officials who have long supported him. His supporters said Krasner implemented the necessary reforms in the name of racial justice.

“That’s what happens, this circus impeachment, when you’re trying to defend black people,” said Nicolas O’Rourke, an activist with the Working Families Party.

In a statement after the press conference, House Republican Speaker Jason Gottesman said only, “Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has been indicted by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. No press conference can change that.”

Krasner’s impeachment is progressing against a backdrop of a seismic power shift in Harrisburg. Republican lawmakers introduced the impeachment articles in the closing days of the legislature, passing them almost entirely on partisan considerations—the same day Democrats won a narrow majority of the state house seats. In January, Republicans will not hold a majority of seats in the chamber for the first time in more than a decade.

» READ MORE: Why was Larry Krasner charged? Breakdown of the charges against the prosecutor

The GOP has described the effort as an intervention to rein in a rogue prosecutor amid an alarmingly high rate of gun violence in the city. Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R, center), the majority leader, said last week that the party is lobbying for both Philadelphia citizens and residents across the state who may be visiting the city.

“It’s sad and it doesn’t matter what the geography is,” he said. “It should upset all Pennsylvanians.”

Democrats have criticized the GOP for the process, saying they pushed through an impeachment trial in the closing days of a lame duck session after watching their 23-seat majority in the House of Representatives being erased in the midterm elections.

“It’s them trying to make as much noise as they can, step out the door and yell,” said Representative Rick Krajewski, a West Philadelphia Democrat. “It’s them trying not to go out silently.”

Krasner added that those who advocate his removal “better be careful before you make that double-edged sword,” and said if the impeachment is successful, “don’t be surprised if the other team starts doing it to you.” .

“Can you imagine a country where no choice is final?” he asked. “This is the world some people want, and this is not the world voters want.”

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