Reminder: It's always the cover-up http://t.co/P4D1Dn3zKw
— Blake Zeff (@blakezeff) July 31, 2014
Stephen Gillers in The Nation writes in an article entitled "Andrew Cuomo's Watergate?" that up until now, he didn't see much for US Attorney Preet Bharara to get Cuomo on, but after Cuomo's shenanigans this week stage-managing his defense, he thinks Cuomo gave Preet an opening:
Before Monday, I and others had been trying to figure out what statutes Bharara may have been looking at. Certainly, he could pursue evidence of corruption by state officials, including lawmakers, whom the Commission had been investigating before it was dismissed, and about which it had files.But Cuomo's claim that he had a right to disband the Commission, because it was "my" Commission, did not seem to be a basis for federal investigation even if it was a politically foolish decision and defense.Now, Bharara has a basis to investigate Cuomo himself and his aides. The statute would be 18 USC 1512(b) and possibly others. It is a crime to knowingly corruptly persuade another to keep information from an official proceeding. That's the Arthur Andersen case in the Supreme Court among others.There is a sitting grand jury, which is an official proceeding, and former Commissioners must have been aware that they could be witnesses even if not yet subpoenaed. Cuomo would also be so aware.
Bharara is warning Cuomo that any effort to coordinate a false story (of non-intervention) that these Commissioners would tell the grand jury if called would be a federal crime. This is so even if their statements are so far only public statements, even if the effort fails because the Commissioners don't testify. The statute forbids attempts.Now, as I say, it may all be innocent. The Commissioners who spoke out, and who prior to doing so may have been contacted by the governor's people to solicit their statements (Bharara says he "has reason to believe" they were), may have spoken truthfully with no "knowing corrupt persuasion" at play.But Monday's events put the governor is at risk in ways he was not before. The US obstruction statutes are incredibly broad. Whoever got the idea to coordinate the concurrent Commissioner statements, assuming there was coordination and not a coincidence, and even if any such idea was entirely benign, may not have been aware of what they were handing Bharara for investigation.
NY Times reporter Nicholas Confessore tweeted this earlier:
It is genuinely puzzling that Cuomo, a politician with so many ex-federal prosecutors in his kitchen cabinet, is messing this up so badly.
— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) July 31, 2014
I think the answer for why that is happening is fairly obvious, given who Cuomo is:
@nickconfessore It's arrogance & hubris. He thinks he's untouchable, thinks he's smarter/tougher than anybody else.
— realitybasededucator (@perdidostschool) July 31, 2014
In Bharara, Cuomo seems to have met his match.