New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the City Hall legal team “are continuing to work with investigators and cooperate,” his chief counsel told CNN on Sunday, after the New York Times reported federal authorities are investigating whether Adams successfully pressed city officials to allow the opening of a Manhattan high-rise housing the Turkish Consulate General.
“The mayor and our team are continuing to work with investigators and cooperate. We hope that investigators will continue to cooperate with us and reprimand any federal officer who has improperly leaked details about this investigation as such conduct could prejudice the public and undermines the integrity of our law enforcement process,” New York City Hall Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg told CNN.
The New York Times reported that federal investigators are looking into whether Adams, weeks before his election two years ago, pressured New York Fire Department officials to sign off on the Turkish government’s new consulate despite safety concerns with the building, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.
The report comes after CNN reported Friday that FBI agents seized phones and an iPad from the mayor last week as part of an investigation into campaign fundraising, a dramatic escalation of the federal probe into whether foreign money was funneled to his campaign.
Adams on Sunday told CNN through a campaign spokesperson, “As a Borough President, part of my routine role was to notify government agencies of issues on behalf of constituents and constituencies. I have not been accused of wrongdoing and I will continue to cooperate with investigators.”
The New York Times reported, citing sources, that after winning the Democratic mayoral primary in July 2021, Adams contacted then-Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro and urged him to allow the Turkish government to occupy the building at least on a temporary basis. The building had yet to open because fire officials had cited safety issues and declined to sign off on its occupancy, the sources told The Times.
The intervention by Adams is being examined as part of a broader public corruption investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan that led to the seizure of the mayor’s electronic devices by federal agents early last week, The Times reported.
The seizure came days after the FBI raided the home of Adams’ chief fundraiser as part of the investigation to determine whether the mayor’s 2021 campaign conspired with a Brooklyn-based construction company to funnel foreign money into campaign coffers. Teams of FBI agents executed “numerous search warrants” at homes and businesses throughout the New York area on November 2, including one at the home of the chief fundraiser for Adams’ campaign, Brianna Suggs, multiple law enforcement sources told CNN.
Law enforcement officials familiar with the search warrants told CNN the investigators were seeking evidence that foreign nationals – who are barred from making contributions – may have “bundled” donations by going into New York’s Turkish American communities and getting US citizens of Turkish origin to act as “straw contributors.”
The alleged scheme would have allowed money coming from foreign business entities to be masked as donations from American citizens who did not actually donate the money.
“As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all members of my staff to follow the law and fully cooperate with any sort of investigation — and I will continue to do exactly that,” the mayor said in a statement to CNN on Friday. “I have nothing to hide.”
Following The New York Times’ report, Adams told Katie Honan from the nonprofit outlet The City he plans to take questions Tuesday.
“We’re cooperating, we need to do this together so that all the facts can come out. … We do open questions on Tuesday, I look forward to then,” he said.
CNN’s Jessica Xing contributed to this report.
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