New York prosecutor who oversaw case against Michael Cohen stepping down

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By Tom Winter and Jonathan Dienst  with NBC News Politics
Image: Robert Khuzami
U.S. Deputy Attorney Robert Khuzami at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House in Manhattan, New York, on Aug. 21, 2018.   -   Copyright  Mike Segar Reuters file

The veteran New York prosecutor who oversaw the case against Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer, is stepping down.

Robert Khuzami decided to leave the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York to return to Washington D.C. where his family lives. Khuzami, who joined the office in January 2018, had been commuting from the nation's capital on a weekly basis, according to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

"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," Berman said in a statement.

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

The decision has been in the works for weeks, according to multiple people familiar with the matter who stressed that Khuzami was not asked to leave.

Khuzami played a critical role in the criminal case against Cohen, but largely avoided the ire that President Donald Trump has directed against special counsel Robert Mueller.

Cohen is slated to begin a three-year prison sentence in May after pleading guilty to a series of crimes, including arranging secret payments during the 2016 election to silence two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

Khuzami's replacement is Audrey Strauss, the office's senior counsel. Strauss previously worked on the Iran Contra case and was the chief legal officer for Alcoa.