Mayor Dodges Questions About Sexual Assault Case and FBI Investigation

By: Shenal Tissera

New York City Mayor Eric Adams declined to answer specific questions about the sexual assault lawsuit filed against him, and on the ongoing federal investigation into his 2021 mayoral campaign, during his regular press conference at City Hall on Tuesday.

Adams was grilled several times on the city’s hiring of lawyer Alex Spiro as co-counsel for his sexual assault case. Spiro is dubbed a “celebrity lawyer,” by some media outlets because he has defended high-profile individuals, including Elon Musk and Robert Kraft.

Adams repeatedly cited the legal process and refused to give specific comments on his current legal troubles, other than to deny any wrongdoing.

“I’m not answering anything else on it. I’ve already answered it. The Corporate Counsel made a decision. They are doing the defense,” said Adams in regards to the hiring of Spiro to his defense team. “This is something I will never do, did not happen, that’s not how I live my life.”

Many have taken umbrage with the fact that Adams is being represented by the New York City Law Department, which means taxpayers are fully funding the defense of the mayor.

New information regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry into possible illegal campaign donations funneled into Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign came to light on Friday. Free flight upgrades Adams received from Turkish Airlines during his time as the Brooklyn Borough President and current role have come under scrutiny from the bureau.

The mayor kept strictly to the script on the investigation, again referencing the process of the law.

“The questions you were asking me on Turkish Airlines, can I comment on A, B, C and D? No, it’s taking the process. Let it take its process,” said Adams. “And after the process concludes…you’re going to be able to read everything in my book.”

The mayor is accused of having a relationship with Turkish Airlines, of which the Turkish government owns half of. A former Turkish Airlines executive, Cenk Öcal, was on the mayoral transition team and had his residence raided by the FBI in November.

The investigation is trying to determine whether donations and flight upgrades were used in exchange for political favors. One favor may include pressure exerted by the mayor on the Fire Department of New York to approve an operating certificate for the Turkish consulate in September of 2021, in spite of safety concerns in the building.

The mayor has not been charged with any crime thus far.

Also during the press conference, Adams commented on the “Good Cause Eviction” bill currently being discussed in Albany. Although he voiced support for tenants, he emphasized the need to keep small property owners in mind as well.

“I support tenants being protected and I support particularly small property owners being able to deal with holding onto their properties,” said Adams. “If we lose small property owners…big developers are going to come in, we’re gonna lose the financial base of Black and brown immigrant communities.”

The bill, which was introduced by State Senator Julia Salazar of Brooklyn, originally sought to cap rent increases at 3% and prohibit eviction without a satisfactory reason, but the rate is currently being negotiated in Albany.

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