A federal prosecutor has threatened to investigate New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration for allegedly encouraging potential witnesses to defend the Democratic governor's handling of an anti-corruption commission.

Cuomo's office acknowledged Thursday having discussions with "relevant parties" but declined to identify them.

The New York Times reports that Manhattan's U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who took over the commission investigations after Cuomo dismantled it last spring, says there is "reason to believe" some commissioners were asked to speak out on Cuomo's behalf.

Five commissioners defended the panel's independence Monday, the same day Cuomo dismissed criticism that his office pressured the commission not to investigate entities linked to him.

The Times reports Bharara wrote to the commission's lawyer Wednesday, saying attempts to "influence or tamper with a witness's recollection" would be investigated.