Audrey Strauss into spotlight in N.Y. prosecutor’s office

Federal prosecutor Audrey Strauss found himself pushed into the spotlight Saturday as the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York after President Donald Trump fired her boss, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

Strauss will now lead some of the country’s most politically sensitive investigations that have angered the White House. Attorney General William Barr said President Donald Trump has nominated Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton to eventually replace Berman.

The office has been probing Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s role in efforts to find dirt on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine.

It also issued indictments against Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Furman in October for allegedly violating a ban on foreign donations in federal elections, and prosecuted Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“She is totally nonpolitical in her decision-making process,” Jed S. Rakoff, a federal judge in Manhattan told the New York Times of Strauss, a registered Democrat. “I’ve never met anyone who is more immune to the passions of the moment.”

Strauss, 72, is currently in her second stint in the Southern District office. She worked there from 1976 to 1983 and came out of retirement to work under Berman as his senior counsel in 2018.

“There’s nothing good about this whole unhappy episode, but you couldn’t find anybody with more integrity, more smarts and more adult judgment than Audrey,” Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, said. “She is really widely admired by everyone.”

In the meantime, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has called for an investigation into Berman’s removal and the role Barr and Trump played in it. He claimed that they have never given a reason why Berman was fired.

Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union that Barr should be impeached over Berman’s removal but conceded it would be a “waste of time” because of the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

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