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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is fighting back against state legislators who voted last week to hold him in contempt, accusing them of a politically motivated attempt to remove him from office while demanding that he turn over protected documents.
The Pennsylvania House overwhelmingly voted against Krasner in a bipartisan fashion for not complying with a subpoena issued as part of a House committee investigation. That probe has gone on as state Republicans are looking to impeach Krasner as they blame his policies for the city’s rise in gun violence.
On Monday, Krasner accused his political opponents of being disingenuous and using the current state of affairs — which he acknowledged is bad — for political purposes.
“They don’t believe that. They know better than that,” Krasner said about the idea that the rise in crime is his fault. “This is pure hypocrisy. This is taking advantage of people’s pain, their suffering, their tragedy, their agony … this is taking advantage of that for the worst kind of cheap politics.”
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 30: (L) Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner reacts while being mentioned by Danielle Outlaw at a press conference announcing her as the new Police Commissioner on December 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ((Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images))
The same day, Krasner’s office issued a press release with the stated purpose of “correcting the record.” It called the actions against Krasner a “politically motivated effort to remove twice elected chief prosecutor Larry Krasner from office — despite there being no allegation of crime or official misconduct, unlike several other Pennsylvania DAs.”
Also on Monday, Krasner’s legal team sent a letter to the lawyer for Rep. John Lawrence, Chairman of the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order that is investigating Krasner, claiming that some of the materials sought in the subpoena they sent include transcripts of grand jury materials, which are secret and cannot be divulged.
“Prosecutors are prohibited by law from disclosing grand jury materials and can even go to jail for doing so,” the letter said. The letter also accused lawmakers of not giving Krasner due process because he did not have an opportunity to explain his failure to comply with the subpoena before they voted.
Krasner said the idea that a chief prosecutor should be held responsible for crime is “absurd.” He said that while the two-year homicide increase in Philadelphia has been roughly 59%, the highest ever was 60.5% under Republican District Attorney Arlen Specter.
“No one ever said he caused it, that is absurd,” Krasner said. “They did not impeach him, they made him a U.S. Senator.”
Krasner also pointed to the three Republicans leading the impeachment effort – Reps. Josh Kail, Torren Ecker,and Tim O’Neal — noting that their counties’ homicide increases are much more drastic than Philadelphia’s.
Kail represents parts of Beaver and Washington counties, which saw increases of 250% and 800%, respectively, according to Krasner. O’Neal is from Washington County and Ecker is from Adams and Cumblerand counties, with Adams having a 300% increase.
“It would be absurd to say that their traditional if not conservative prosecutors caused those high increases in homicides,” Krasner said.
The three lawmakers said in June that impeachment is not something they take lightly and that their decision is “due to the willful refusal by District Attorney Krasner to enforce existing law.”