Mayor dodges questions on reports that federal grand jury is reviewing evidence in campaign probe

Mayor Eric Adams declines to take questions on reports that a federal grand jury is hearing evidence in the probe into his 2021 campaign’s fundraising practices. Monday, June 10, 2024.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Mayor Eric Adams on Monday refused to take questions about the recent news that a federal grand jury is reviewing evidence related to the FBI probe into his 2021 campaign, instead referring reporters to his attorneys.

Reporters attempted to ask Adams about the latest development in the ongoing probe during an unrelated June 10 Brooklyn press conference. The Daily News and New York Post broke the news on Friday, with the articles indicating that at least one person within the mayor’s orbit has received a subpoena from the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is leading the inquiry, in recent weeks.

When first asked about the grand jury and subpoena during a question-and-answer session following the Brooklyn event—a groundbreaking for an off-shore wind port in Sunset Park—Adams said, “You see the New York press? You see what it is to be the mayor of this city? Try this: Stay focused, no distractions, and grind.”

Then, when questioned again about the news on his way out of the groundbreaking, Adams directed reporters to his Chief Counsel Lis Zornberg and the law firm retained by his campaign, WilmerHale — according to a video posted on social media by a New York Post reporter.

“Listen, for any questions on [the] city, Lisa Zornberg, for any questions [on my] campaign, WilmerHale,” Adams said. “That is what I told y’all over and over again. Those are the two people you should be talking with. I must be focused on running this complex city, delivering on these great jobs and recovering our economy like we’re doing.”

The mayor’s top spokesperson, Fabien Levy, on Friday did not directly address the grand jury development in his statement to the News and Post.

“City Hall has said since the beginning that it will cooperate fully with this review — and it has by making individuals available to discuss any details necessary in order to reach a just and timely conclusion,” he said.

Neither Adams’ campaign lawyer nor his personal attorney was immediately available for comment.

The grand jury is reviewing evidence in the Manhattan US Attorney’s and FBI’s investigation into whether Adams’ 2021 campaign colluded with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign campaign donations, according to a search warrant that was obtained and reviewed by the New York Times in November. The probe is also looking at whether the mayor expedited the construction of a Turkish consulate building in midtown Manhattan and received free upgrades on Turkish Airlines flights, according to reports.

Federal grand juries have the power to issue subpoenas and hand down indictments. It was not clear from reports whether or not indictments would be handed down anytime soon, if at all.

The mayor has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing and has maintained he and his campaign “follow the law.” Zornberg said late last month that she has still seen “no indication” that Adams himself is a target of the investigation.

The federal probe first burst into public view in early November, when the FBI raided the homes of Adams’ former top campaign fundraiser Brianna Suggs and City Hall staffer Rana Abasova, among others. A few days later, Adams’ electronic devices — including two phones and an iPad — were seized by federal agents.

Suggs is still employed by Adams’ campaign, the mayor said late last year, although she is no longer fundraising and is instead handling “paperwork.” Abasova is on leave from her City Hall job and has reportedly been cooperating with federal authorities.