Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement he had “confidence” that Strauss “will continue running SDNY in a professional and ethical manner.”
“Ms. Strauss is widely viewed as a highly competent, highly capable Deputy U.S. Attorney with the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running,” Graham said.
Strauss came out of retirement in early 2018 to work for Berman as senior counsel. A year later, the office’s deputy U.S. attorney stepped down, and she was promoted, putting her in charge of the office’s probes tied to Trump.
Prosecutors who worked with her praised her qualities. “She’s a real and serious lawyer,” said Michael Ferrara, a former prosecutor who left the Southern District in January. “Whether as counsel or deputy [to Berman], she has been a part of every significant case and decision. Geoff relied on her.”
“She is a complete ‘no fear or favor,’ no political influence type of prosecutor,” Ferrara added. “It’s where do the facts lead me? What does the law say? That’s Audrey Strauss.”
Running the Manhattan office, even if just temporarily, brings Strauss’s decades-long legal career full circle — she joined the Southern District’s criminal division in 1976 only a few years after graduating from Columbia Law School.
Not long after she began there, Strauss bested widely known defense attorney Roy Cohn, a man Trump has called a mentor, in a case against two members of the Mafia. She later served on the staff for the independent counsel investigation into the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan administration.
Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District before being let go by Trump in 2017, tweeted of Strauss: “Despite challenges, the fine people at SDNY will continue the long tradition of integrity and independence under Audrey Strauss. Let’s all wish her well.”
Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.