The 72-year-old former deputy to
The position is the most important federal law-enforcement role outside of Washington. With a territory that encompasses lower Manhattan, it can strike at the heart of the financial industry with headline-grabbing cases. Previous officeholders have included
A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School, Strauss first became a Southern District federal prosecutor in 1976. She served in the office until 1983 and then worked in Washington as a staff lawyer in the independent counsel investigation into the Reagan-era Iran-Contra affair.
“She is a prosecutor who was raised in the tradition of SDNY independence,” said Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor in the office who’s running on the Democratic ticket for district attorney in New York’s Westchester County. “She has total integrity. She will not tolerate inappropriate interference.”
Before rejoining the Southern District in 2018, Strauss had a long career in the private sector, including stints as a partner at New York law firm
“Having worked closely with her when she was a lawyer in private practice, I know first-hand that she is a brilliant lawyer with an iron will and is committed to do justice,” said Apps, now a partner at the law firm Milbank in New York. “Geoff Berman would not have stepped down on Saturday but for AG Barr’s commitment that Audrey Strauss would remain at the helm of the office and continue with ongoing investigations ‘without fear or favor.’”
“Strauss has been Berman’s deputy for more than a year and we expect she won’t change the direction of ongoing probes and cases, though her appointment as head of that office may be temporary,”
Among the cases Strauss will now oversee are some of keen interest to the Trump administration. Some of these investigations have moved forward, while others have seemingly gone dormant for years.
- An ongoing probe into Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and political ally, examining his efforts to secure political dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden. The office has already brought charges against two of Giuliani’s associates.
- A long-running investigation with the Justice Department into whether Deutsche Bank AG -- Trump’s biggest lender -- violated money-laundering laws.
- The office is currently prosecuting Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank for allegedly helping Iran evade sanctions on billions of dollars in oil funds. Former National Security Advisor John Bolton writes in his upcoming book that Trump promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the Halkbank “problem” would be “fixed” once “his people” controlled the Southern District.
- Probes into how donations to Trump’s inaugural committee were spent and whether Trump’s companies were involved in facilitating hush-money payments to alleged Trump mistresses
- Berman’s staff also reviewed whether American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, violated the terms of its cooperation agreement in the Michael Cohen prosecution by publishing the expose of Jeff Bezos’s extramarital affair. The Enquirer is run by longtime Trump associate David Pecker and has often provided friendly coverage to Trump. The status of the review, which began in early 2019, remains unclear, but no charges have been filed.
(Updates with comment from BI, Schumer request for investigation.)
--With assistance from
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Linus Chua, Steve Stroth
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