July 15, 2024

As my colleague Bonchie reported Friday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams was stopped on the street by the FBI and asked to hand over two cell phones and an iPad. Earlier in November, feds raided his fundraising chief’s house, causing Adams—who was traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with White House officials to talk about the border crisis—to suddenly turn around and head back to the Big Apple.

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As Bonchie wrote, speculation immediately started that this was all payback from the Biden Administration because Adams has been criticizing the president’s disastrous border policies as of late. Producer/director and Republican activist Robby Starbuck had this to say:

But what is it exactly that the FBI is investigating? Turns out, Adams allegedly pushed the New York Fire Department to approve the opening of a new high-rise in Manhattan that would be home to hold the Turkish consulate, and he may have garnered illegal donations from the country in return. 

They’ve been looking into the matter since at least the spring:

After winning the Democratic mayoral primary in July, Mr. Adams contacted then-Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro in late summer 2021 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 people said.

The unusual intervention by Mr. Adams is being examined as part of a broader public corruption investigation by the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors in Manhattan that led to the seizure of the mayor’s electronic devices by federal agents early last week, the people said. The F.B.I. has been asking top Fire Department officials about Mr. Adams’s role in the matter since the spring, the people said.

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Adams was rewarded for his efforts by a visit from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who presided over the opening of the $300 million, 35-story tower in September 2021. But the feds think he may been rewarded with more than just that:

The federal criminal inquiry has focused at least in part on whether Mr. Adams’s 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government, including its consulate general in New York, to illegally funnel foreign money into its coffers, according to a search warrant obtained by The New York Times for an F.B.I. search this month of the home of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser.

Adams for his part is adamant that he did nothing wrong and issued a statement Saturday:

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.

Part of politics is pushing people to get things done, and it’s unlikely they’re investigating him over a phone call. The potential violations of campaign finance law, however, could be a lot more serious. Although he says he’s innocent, things aren’t great when the FBI stops you on the street, and although no charges have been filed, the mayor retained lawyers last week to represent him, his campaign, and his finance chief.

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This could be payback by the Biden machine, or Adams could have very well broken the law. The third option: both things could be true.

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