NYT: U.S. Attorney Tells Cuomo To Back Off Witnesses In Ethics Probe

The U.S. attorney investigating New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to shutter an anti-corruption commission earlier this year has warned the governor against tampering with witnesses or otherwise obstructing the inquiry, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, sent the warning in a letter to Cuomo’s office Wednesday. The letter appears to have been prompted by Cuomo’s office reaching out to members of the commission to ask them to make public statements defending its work, according to the Times.

“To the extent anyone attempts to influence or tamper with a witness’s recollection of events relevant to our investigation, including the recollection of a commissioner or one of the commission’s employees, we request that you advise our office immediately, as we must consider whether such actions constitute obstruction of justice or tampering with witnesses that violate federal law,” Bharara’s office wrote in the letter.

The Times revealed last week that Cuomo’s office stymied the commission’s investigations into some of the governor’s political associates. Cuomo also closed the commission eight months ahead of schedule, after the New York General Assembly passed a legislative package that many watchdog groups considered insufficient.

Bharara has since picked up some of the investigations that the commission left unfinished and launched an inquiry into why Cuomo shut it down.

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