Robert Khuzami Cohen prosecutor, office’s senior counsel Audrey Strauss.
Robert Khuzami, the high-ranking federal prosecutor who led the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, is leaving his post in Manhattan on April 12, officials said Friday.
Khuzami will be replaced as deputy in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York by Audrey Strauss, the current senior counsel there. The office is continuing to probe issues related to Trump.
Khuzami’s departure is for personal reasons relating to his commute each week from Washington, D.C., where he lives with his family, and is not the result of political pressure, according to NBC News.
Multiple people familiar with the situation told NBC that Khuzami was not asked to leave nor is he being forced out, and that his exit is unrelated to his role in the Cohen probe.
It was not disclosed by officials whether Khuzami would remain employed by the Justice Department. CNBC has requested comment from the DOJ.
In addition to Strauss taking over the role held by Khuzami, Arnold & Porter partner Craig Stewart will become chief counsel to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the head of the SDNY office, according to a news release.
Berman praised Khuzami in a statement, while confirming that he was leaving the office for family reasons:
Rob Khuzami is an extraordinary and brilliant lawyer who has upheld the ideals of integrity and professionalism that characterize the work of this Office. There can be no higher praise. As an example of his extraordinary commitment to the Office, Rob has been commuting weekly from Washington, D.C., since January 2018. While his desire to continue to serve remains strong, he understandably has decided to return home to his family.
Berman was recused from handling Cohen’s case for reasons that have not been revealed after Trump picked him to run the office in January 2018.
Berman’s office is continuing to investigate areas related to Trump, including the payments of hush money to two alleged paramours of the president shortly before the 2016 election. Trump has denied having sex with either woman: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty last year to multiple charges lodged by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, including campaign finance violations stemming from the hush money payouts, and financial crimes. He also admitted to lying to Congress in a separate case lodged by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cohen is due to surrender May 6 to begin a three-year prison term.