The prosecutor who led the case against Michael Cohen to withdraw


Robert S. Khuzami, the federal prosecutor in Manhattan, who oversaw the criminal trial against Michael D. Cohen, a former lawyer and adviser to President Trump, will be withdrawing next month, according to people informed about it.

Khuzami's departure, due to be announced on Friday, comes as his office's investigation into Trump's tight circle continues on several fronts. Geoffrey S. Berman, the US attorney in Manhattan, will appoint his lead counsel, Audrey Strauss, to replace Mr. Khuzami as the US Deputy Attorney, told the informed people about this.

In the public face of investigations potentially threatening Mr. Trump's presidency, Mr. Khuzami told his colleagues that his departure was for personal reasons and that he was not tied to any political pressure. The announcement comes as special advocate, Robert S. Mueller III, is on the verge of concluding his nearly two-year investigation into Russia's interference in the presidential election of 2016.

Unlike Mr. Mueller, Mr. Khuzami did not face a personal and public ridicule on the part of Mr. Trump. Registered as a "non-partisan," Mr. Khuzami served under Republican and Democratic administrations and has a reputation of being a mere shooter.

The Southern District has long been known for its independence from the Washington Department of Justice and its prosecution of politicians of all stripes. The office's reputation for autonomy has even earned it the nickname of "sovereign district" in New York.

Khuzami's decision to leave the Southern District of New York limits his 15-month term as a Member of Parliament for Mr. Berman; in particular, he oversaw the investigation into the hidden cash payments made during the 2016 campaign to two women who reported having relations with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen pled guilty in this case and must begin a three-year prison term in May.

Mr. Berman, who was appointed in January 2018 by the Trump administration, hired Mr. Khuzami for the first time. A prosecutor in the same office earlier in his career, Khuzami assumed responsibility for the Cohen Inquiry after Mr. Berman was denied the case for undisclosed reasons.

After Khuzami's departure, Ms. Strauss would be in charge of monitoring all remaining aspects of the Cohen Inquiry being disqualified by Mr. Berman. Craig A. Stewart, former South District Attorney for the law firm Arnold & Porter, will become Berman's lead counsel.

Mr. Khuzami's plans were not clear. He had rebounded between the private sector and government services for years. As Deputy Prosecutor of the United States, Khuzami left behind a lucrative partnership at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm in Washington, DC, where he lived even while traveling to New York. He had told his friends that he had always planned to return home to his family this year.

In his previous years in the southern district, in the 1990s, Mr. Khuzami made his way as a prosecutor for terrorism and financial crimes. In 2002, he joined Deutsche Bank, where he eventually became General Counsel of the US branch of the company. He left in 2009, under the Obama administration, management of the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As Deputy Prosecutor of the United States for the past 15 months, Mr. Khuzami has overseen several investigations from which Mr. Berman was challenged, but none was more visible than the case of Mr. Cohen, who broke out in public view in April 2018 when the FB.I. makes a descent into Mr. Cohen's home, office, and hotel room.

Four months later, Mr. Cohen pled guilty to violating the campaign finance law, including paying $ 130,000 to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels to silence her over a relationship. she would have had with Mr. Trump. Mr. Khuzami's attorneys argued that the payment was an excessive contribution to Mr. Trump's campaign, noting that Ms. Daniels' silence increased her chances of being elected and that the campaign finance law was capping. individual donations to a presidential candidate in general elections at $ 2,700.

In seeking a stiff sentence from Mr. Cohen, Mr. Khuzami's attorneys testified in court that he "acted in coordination with and on the instructions of Mr. Trump. The president then suggested that Mr. Khuzami's attorneys use the case against Mr. Cohen to embarrass him.

Even after Khuzami's departure, the southern district is expected to continue its investigation into secret payments, which could imply a decision as to the advisability of filing a lawsuit against M Trump or other people at the Trump Organization, where Mr. Cohen had been working for a decade.


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