What Bharara might have meant in his cryptic tweet

Story highlights

  • Bharara was fired over the weekend after refusing to resign his position as a prominent US attorney
  • The Moreland Commission searched for information on outside income earned by New York legislators

Washington (CNN)The day after he was fired following a public standoff with President Donald Trump, former US Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted a cryptic message.

Bharara was fired over the weekend after refusing to resign his position as a prominent US attorney who oversees prosecutions on Wall Street. Trump had asked for 46 prosecutors to resign, as is customary during a new administration, but Bharara's refusal to resign created a brief, stunning public standoff Saturday before he was finally dismissed.
"By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like," he wrote on his personal Twitter account on Sunday. He did not provide further explanation and had not tweeted again as of mid-Monday afternoon.
Sunday's tweet was likely as much a shot at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, as it was at Trump. It's been speculated that Bharara could be eyeing a run for political office, perhaps to unseat Cuomo or New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
And it was Cuomo who ended the Moreland Commission to which Bharara was referring in his tweet.
New York's Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption searched for information on the outside income earned by state lawmakers, among other ethics probes.
That commission eventually led to the prosecution and sentencing of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose prominent career concluded last May when he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud and extortion.
But the commission's work was prematurely ended by Cuomo in 2014 in exchange for changes in campaign finance reporting requirements and bribery laws for the legislature, according to the criminal complaint in the Silver case. The complaint alleged that Silver and Cuomo negotiated to kill the commission so it would not learn of Silver's illegal income.
"Today's stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver's long career of corruption," Bharara said in May upon Silver's sentencing.
Bharara had investigated the shutdown of the commission, but decided in January 2016 that he did not have enough evidence to show improper meddling or wrongdoing.
"After a thorough investigation of interference with the operation of the Moreland Commission and its premature closing, this office has concluded that, absent any additional proof that may develop, there is insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime," he said in a statement.
Bharara's office had many investigations in the hopper at the time of his firing, including one involving Fox News. Attorneys have been looking into whether 21st Century Fox skirted the law when it paid settlements to people who charged former network chief Roger Ailes with sexual harassment.
"There's really only one political appointee in the office, Bharara, and everyone else, all the other 200-plus prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office here in Manhattan, are career, non-political people," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Sunday on "Reliable Sources."
"They will continue their investigations unless and until a new boss tells them to stop," Toobin said. "I mean, the real power of a US attorney is not to control investigations day-to-day but to say, 'Look, we're not pursuing X or we are pursuing Y.' And 'I will not sign an indictment or I will sign an indictment.' The real question will be who comes in to replace him long-term and whether that person has a similarly aggressive attitude."