By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Philadelphia’s elected prosecutor said Friday he’s making plans to defend himself against a possible impeachment process by the Republican-controlled Legislature and that it could begin as early as next week.
Democratic District Attorney Larry Krasner told reporters in a morning news conference on the state Capitol steps that he had been willing to testify before a special committee handling the matter but it would not permit him to record the closed-door proceedings.
“We all know that Nov. 8 is coming,” Krasner said, linking the effort to the upcoming Election Day. “We all know they have a very small number of session days left. When you understand their motive, which has nothing to do with public safety, when you understand their motive, which is pure politics, I think there’s a very little question that they’re gonna move.”
He said he has not been accused of corruption or any crime, but is instead being targeted for his ideas and policies as a tactic designed to affect next month’s midterm election.
“I would say I would not be surprised even a little bit if they go out of their way to vote for impeachment before the election,” Krasner said. “Because this is politics.”
Asked if state House GOP leaders planned to have the House take up the matter next week or before the election, a for the Republican caucus, Jason Gottesman only, said that “next week will take care of next week itself.”
Gottesman, who watched Krasner’s news conference, said it is “a slap in the face to the people that Larry Krasner’s office should be protecting that he used time and resources from his office to come here today for a media stunt after he refused the goodwill invitation from the select committee to offer his testimony.”
He said Krasner’s “criminal justice philosophy” has increased death, crime, property damage, “and the destruction of law and order in Philadelphia.”
The House’s five-member Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order has been charged with studying gun violence in Philadelphia and is considering whether to start impeachment proceedings against Krasner, who was overwhelmingly reelected last year.
Republicans have hammered on crime as a campaign issue in Philadelphia this year and focused criticism on Krasner. The committee was established in June to evaluate Krasner’s job performance and make “recommendations for removal from office or other appropriate discipline, including impeachment.”
A committee lawyer on Saturday asked Krasner to provide sworn testimony behind closed doors on Friday, but talks broke down over the panel’s insistence that his appearance be in secret, and came to an impasse when he said he would do it if he could record it, Krasner said.
“Their answer was ‘No, you get no record of what we asked you and what you said. We get it,'” Krasner told reporters.
Krasner said the committee’s work was part of a Republican effort to blame cities for a wider national gun violence problem that is also felt in the state’s rural, Republican majority counties.
Democrats have argued that Republicans have not moved against GOP district attorneys with recent criminal charges or convictions, and that efforts to reduce gun violence have been blocked in the Legislature. Krasner said those proposals include universal background checks to buy guns and ammo, a ban on so-called ghost guns and “deep and meaningful investments in prevention.”
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives rarely uses its power to impeach public officials. The removal process requires a House majority vote, followed by trial in the Senate and a two-thirds vote. It was most recently used successfully against Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen nearly three decades ago.
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