Prosecutor who probed President Trump's ex-lawyer quits

LARRY NEUMEISTER
In this Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, deputy U.S. attorney Robert Khuzami speaks at the Justice Department in Washington. Khuzami, who presided as prosecutor over the case that led to guilty pleas by attorney Michael Cohen will leave his post April 12. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The prosecutor who led a New York probe of President Donald Trump's former personal attorney for the last year is stepping down.

Robert Khuzami, 62, who presided over the case that led to guilty pleas by attorney Michael Cohen, will leave his post April 12. Cohen has since been disbarred.

A release from U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Khuzami will return to his Washington D.C. home after commuting to New York while serving the last 15 months as deputy U.S. attorney.

Berman called Khuzami "an extraordinary and brilliant lawyer."

"While his desire to continue to serve remains strong, he understandably has decided to return home to his family," Berman said.

Khuzami was put in charge of the Cohen prosecution when Berman was recused for reasons that were never disclosed.

Those reasons were likely narrow since Berman is heading various other investigations related to the president, including probes of possible illegal contributions from foreigners to presidential inaugural events and actions taken by National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. for its role in pre-2016 election payments to two women to stay silent about alleged affairs with Trump.

Khuzami worked in the Manhattan federal prosecutor's office in the 1990s, when he was among prosecutors who won a conviction and life sentence against a blind Egyptian sheik in a terrorism case that included a plot to blow up five New York City targets, including the United Nations.

Khuzami also served for four years as head of the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission when Barack Obama was president.

Khuzami will be replaced by Audrey Strauss, who has served as Berman's senior counsel since February 2018. She was a prosecutor in the office from 1976 to 1983 and served with Berman on the staff for the Independent Counsel for the Iran Contra matter during the 1980s.

Cohen is scheduled to report to prison in May after pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws, lying to Congress and other crimes.