ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he wasn’t really aware of the controversy surrounding the firing of Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney and therefore had no comment.
“I didn’t follow the situation. There’s a transition from one administration to the next, but beyond that I haven’t followed it,’’ Cuomo said.
It was Cuomo's first public comments on the firing of Bharara by the Trump administration.
As the top federal prosecutor for the southern district in Manhattan, Bharara investigated the Cuomo administration over its handling of the closure of an anti-corruption panel while it had cases still open. No charges were brought in that matter.
Additionally, Bharara’s office brought the case involving several major Cuomo economic development programs in upstate, including the Buffalo Billion. That matter, involving associates of the governor, including his longtime friend Joseph Percoco as well a former executives of Buffalo’s LPCiminelli construction company, is expected to go to trial sometime this year.
In an appearance Tuesday on CBS This Morning to talk about the snow storm, Cuomo was asked about Bharara’s departure as U.S. Attorney, which came after he and other top prosecutors were told last Friday to submit resignations. Bharara refused and was fired Saturday.
On Monday, a Cuomo aide cut off a reporter when he tried to ask Cuomo – who was holding a pre-storm telephone briefing with reporters - about Bharara.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Cuomo told an adviser to Trump before the inauguration that Bharara was “a bad guy,’’ adding, “Preet is not your friend."
The Cuomo administration has denied Cuomo made such comments.