Facing reporters on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams for the first time gave some details into his thought process last Thursday when he abruptly left Washington, D.C. for New York.
He said a campaign staffer notified him of the incident, so he rushed back to the city to comfort Brianna Suggs, whose home was being raided.
What You Need To Know
- Adams on Wednesday gave his first press conference detailing his decision to return to the city Thursday amid a raid at a top campaign fundraiser's home
- Adams said he wanted to show leadership and seemingly comfort 25-year-old Brianna Suggs
- He said he hasn't spoken to Suggs since the raid, and insists there is no wrongdoing
“As a human being, I was concerned about a young 25-year-old staffer that went through a traumatic experience,” Adams said. But the comfort came at a distance, as the mayor acknowledged he had no contact with Suggs that day.
“I did not speak with Brianna on that day because I didn’t want to give any appearance of interference,” Adams said.
Last Thursday, Adams was set to meet with White House officials and other mayors over the migrant crisis. The mayor boarded a plane and talked up the importance of the trip, but never made the meeting, leaving it to other cities to plead for federal support.
He said coming back to the city was about showing leadership.
“When you have something like that action that took place, your team is looking at you. Your presence is everything. And I wanted to be here not only among my campaign team, but my City Hall team,” Adams said.
Despite questions, Adams said he stands by his decision to abort his trip.
“You can’t govern by optics; you have to govern by action,” Adams said.
The raid of Suggs home is reportedly related to an investigation into whether Adams’ campaign conspired with a Brooklyn construction company and the Turkish government to inject foreign money into his campaign.
Adams insisted there was no wrongdoing and that any impropriety would be completely unexpected.
“I would be shocked if someone states that our campaign coordinated in illegal behavior,” the mayor said. “I cannot tell you how often I start the day by telling my team you have to follow the law.”
In the wake of a New York Times report that donations from Turkey are being probed, Adams said he doesn’t have a close relationship with the Turkish government. He has visited the country a handful of times, though, and at one point met the president at a dinner.
“For Turkey, as well as any other country, I want to attract people to the city. There’s nothing specific about that one particular country. It’s all of the countries across the globe,” Adams said.
The mayor has retained the law firm William Hale amid the investigation, which retains both former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and former city lawyer Brendan McGuire.
City Hall’s top lawyer said the Southern District of New York has contacted them and they are complying with any requests.
Adams seemed optimistic about the outcome of the case.
“I’m sure she is going to get through this, because she followed the rules,” Adams said.
Separately, City Hall denied any role in the unexpected NYPD wellness check at Suggs’s residence hours before the raid.
Chief Counsel for City Hall, Lisa Zornberg, suggested it was a possible information gathering visit. She added that it isn’t unusual for federal officials and local law enforcement to work together in some instances.