March 22, 2019 / 3:03 PM / a year ago

Prosecutor who oversaw case against Trump lawyer Cohen to step down

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Deputy Attorney Robert Khuzami speaks to the media outside the the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House after U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight criminal counts in lower Manhattan, New York City, U.S. August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Robert Khuzami, the federal prosecutor who oversaw the case against President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, will step down from his role as top deputy in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, the office announced on Friday.

Khuzami assumed oversight of the case against Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and other federal crimes, after U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman recused himself from the case.

Khuzami will be replaced as Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by Audrey Strauss, who has been serving as senior counsel to the U.S. Attorney, the office said. Strauss previously worked as a prosecutor in the office from 1976 to 1983, before a career in private practice, including stints at law firms and as chief legal officer for Alcoa Inc.

Strauss will be replaced by Craig Stewart, who is leaving his role as a partner at the law firm of Arnold & Porter focusing on white collar defense, corporate internal investigations and criminal appeals, according to the office.

“Rob Khuzami is an extraordinary and brilliant lawyer who has upheld the ideals of integrity and professionalism that characterize the work of this office,” Berman said in a statement, adding that Khuzami has been commuting weekly from Washington since his appointment in January 2018. “While his desire to continue to serve remains strong, he understandably has decided to return home to his family.”

Khuzami did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Berman and Khuzami worked together as assistant U.S. attorneys in Manhattan in the early 1990s. Khuzami worked at the prosecutor’s office until 2002, rising to lead the office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.

Khuzami went on to work for Deutsche Bank AG from 2002 until early 2009, when he left and moved to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Khuzami left the agency in January 2013 and later that year joined the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where he remained until he joined the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York and Karen Freifeld in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler

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