On Tuesday, many reporters were hoping to finally hear Mayor Eric Adams discuss at length news that broke last week that his phones and iPad had been seized by the FBI.
But it was City Hall Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg that took many of the questions.
“I’m going to jump in here. So many of you know that in addition to being the chief counsel to the mayor and city hall, I was formerly the chief of the criminal division,” Zornber said, as the first question was lobbed at the mayor.
Zornberg was constantly interjecting herself at the weekly off-topic briefing on Tuesday when it came to questions about the probe.
Currently, the FBI is reportedly investigating whether Adams’ 2021 campaign conspired with a Brooklyn construction company to funnel foreign money into his campaign.
The foreign aid is said to be related to the government of Turkey.
Last Monday, Adams' electronic devices were taken, and then returned, as part of the probe. Asked about the seizure, Zornberg gave little information.
“All I am willing to say is that first of all, we’re fully cooperative. We’ve been proactively cooperative. And following proactive outreach to the investigator, they determined that access to certain of the mayor’s devices was accessible. It was advisable and we, of course, complied,” Zornberg said.
Adams’ devices were taken days after federal officials raided the home of Brianna Suggs, one of the mayor’s top fundraisers.
“No one has been accused of wrongdoing in the investigation, to my knowledge. And there has been no indication that I’ve seen that the mayor is a target,” Zornberg said.
The New York Times reported the FBI is also investigating whether Adams, as Brooklyn borough president, pressured a fire department official to sign off on the Turkish government’s high rise in Manhattan despite fire safety concerns.
The mayor acknowledged he did contact fire officials, but argued it was part of being an elected official.
“I had the largest Turkish population outside of Paterson, New Jersey in this country, I believe was in Brooklyn, when I was Brooklyn borough president and we reached out to the commissioner to assist, to find out what was happening and ask him to look at that,” he said.
Adams insisted he did nothing wrong.
“I did not speak to any other individual in the FDNY. I did not circumvent the commissioner. The commissioner was the person that I asked, can you look into this, and that was all I spoke with,” he added.
Adams continued to insist that his team follow the law.
“We don’t do straw donors. A lot of people don’t know what that means, but we don’t do the straw donors. We don’t do quid-pro-quo, we follow the law,” he said.
Even amid the investigation, Adams says he has not lost much support.
“Some of my donors have been with me since I was a state senator and they said you’ve been consistent on your posture, your leadership style, what you’ve been doing for the city of New York. And they remain committed and steadfast,” Adams said.
Adams has retained a private lawyer, Boyd Johnson, amid the investigation. Neither the mayor nor anyone on his campaign has been accused of wrongdoing.