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Eric Adams

After FBI Raid, Mayor Adams Says He Rushed Back From D.C. to Do Important Things He Won’t Tell You About and Comfort a Staffer He Hasn’t Spoken With

"I'm not gonna go into the exact particulars on what actions I did, but I was here and I was present."

1:09 PM EST on November 8, 2023

Eric Adams and staff sit at a table at City Hall during a press conference

From left: Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, and Eric Adams. (Hell Gate)

Last Thursday, as soon as Eric Adams learned that federal agents had raided the home of his top campaign fundraiser, the mayor left Washington, D.C. and bailed on important meetings to get back to New York City. "I like to be on the ground," Adams told PIX11 over the weekend.

But what was the mayor doing "on the ground"? Adams won't say.

"I'm not gonna go into the exact particulars on what actions I did, but I was here and I was present," Adams told reporters on Wednesday morning, during his first press conference since FBI agents searched the home of Brianna Suggs.

When a reporter suggested that the mayor might have come back home because he was concerned about a widening criminal investigation into his campaign—one that is reportedly focusing on whether the government of Turkey funneled tens of thousands of dollars in illegal donations to Adams through a Brooklyn construction company—the mayor countered that his abrupt return to New York City was actually a humanitarian mission.

"I had a 25-year-old staffer that I saw grow up as an intern, that had a traumatizing experience in her life," Adams said of Suggs. "There was a professional part of maintaining, you know, my staff and my city. But I think sometimes we miss the fact that there's a human part to life. As a human being, I was concerned about a young 25-year-old staffer that went through a traumatic experience. And although I'm mayor, I have not stopped being a man and a human."

So Adams came back to comfort Suggs? No.

"I did not speak with Brianna the day of the incident because I didn't want to give any appearance of interference," Adams later clarified. "And I wanted to be clear on that."

Adams did hint that he spoke with his campaign's compliance attorney that day, but beyond that, refused to say what exactly happened upon his return on Thursday. "I communicated and I navigated the ongoing situation, as it was ongoing," Adams said.

The mayor also shared that he would be in a state of disbelief if someone from his campaign was found to be breaking the law, though in the next breath, he said that he constantly has to remind the people around him to not do anything illegal.

"I would be shocked if someone states that our campaign coordinated in illegal behavior," the mayor said. "I just, I cannot tell you how much I start the day with telling my team, 'We gotta follow the law. Gotta follow the law.' Almost to the point that I'm annoying."

The 45-minute press conference began with Adams trying a bit of misdirection, touting the NYPD's falling crime stats, and repeating his belief that being mayor is much more difficult than being the Secretary of State as depicted in the TV show "Madam Secretary." The mayor was mostly in good spirits while he stalled and parried questions from reporters, and only appeared to lose his cool once, during an exchange with New York Times reporter Dana Rubinstein:

Rubinstein: Obviously, you know as [Chief of Staff] Camille Varlack and the deputy mayor said, federal aid is super necessary right now for the City. And you had an opportunity to meet with White House officials and directly ask for it. Doesn't your coming home sort of substantively amount to your prioritizing your campaign's needs over the needs of New York City?

Adams: Uh, no. Next question.

The mayor also said that he'd only met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once, during a reception while he was Brooklyn borough president, and that he'd merely "exchanged pleasantries." And why does Adams have such an affinity for Turkey? His predecessor as borough president, Marty Markowitz, had a strong relationship that he was merely continuing, Adams explained, and besides, he likes to travel. "My passport is full," Adams said.

As to reports that the NYPD did a "wellness check" on Suggs's address the night before the raid, Adams and his deputies were careful to say that "the Mayor's Office had no role in that at all."

"I believe Deputy Mayor Levy, when he reached out, DCPI said, you know, we doubt anything like that ever happened. Until they dug in more, they were able to find out," Adams said, using the acronym for the NYPD's press shop. "We had no role in that at all. And I want to be clear on that. We had no role in that at all."

As the mayor was talking about this, a member of DCPI in the crowd wore an inscrutable expression on his face.

With reporting from Nick Pinto.

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