New York City Mayor Eric Adams is set to take questions for the first time since multiple sources said federal prosecutors were looking into his past contact with the FDNY regarding permit issues in a new high-rise building that was set to house the new Turkish consulate.
The mayor was scheduled to speak to reporters just before noon Tuesday, where it was expected he would be questioned about whether those messages inquiring about fire safety and occupancy were appropriate. Sources familiar with the matter said the mayor texted with then-FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro about when occupancy for the 35-story building could take place.
Those questions came as the FBI was already investigating whether Turkish individuals improperly donated, or were involved in the improper bundling of contributions, to the Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign.
Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said Adams forwarded a Sept. 2021 text requesting help from the Turkish consulate to Nigro asking the fire commissioner to take a look at the issue. Nigro responded later saying a letter allowing occupancy would be handled by the following Monday, the sources said.
Adams said his text to the fire commissioner was a routine request. The mayor had just won the Democratic primary election and was Brooklyn borough president at the time the text messages were sent.
“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,” Adams said through a campaign spokesperson Sunday.
A source familiar with the matter said former FDNY Commissioner Nigro was questioned as a witness by the FBI as least twice, most recently on Nov. 3. Reached by phone, Nigro said, “I prefer not to comment at this time.”
Two sources familiar with the investigation said that safety officials at the FDNY signed off on a letter of occupancy with no objection, meaning the FDNY had reached an agreement with the building for added safety measures that would allow for access to the building.
The FBI has seized electronic devices belonging to NYC Mayor Eric Adams as part of a corruption investigation. News 4’s Jonathan Dienst reports.
The sources added that the owners of the building wanted to gain access in part because Turkish leaders were soon coming to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
Spokespersons for the U.S. attorney, the FBI and the DOI declined to comment. A spokesperson for the FDNY also declined to comment. The Turkish Embassy in Washington has not responded to email requests for comment.
News of questions about the Turkish Consulate fire safety inspection were first reported by the New York Times.
It was last Monday the FBI seized Mayor Adams’ cellphones in connection with the criminal investigation.
The Turkish Consulate building, known as the Turkevi Center, along First Avenue still has temporary certificate of occupancy, sources familiar with the matter said.
Adams has made numerous trips to Turkey in recent years and the timing of the consulate’s opening coincided with a visit to New York by Turkish President Erdogan.
On Nov. 2, the FBI searched the home of top campaign fundraiser Brianna Suggs. Part of the investigation focuses on whether money from overseas was improperly bundled into the mayor’s 2021 campaign. Investigators also looking into donations from people associated with KSK construction, a firm whose owners have ties to Turkey.
No criminal charges have been filed in the matter and the investigation is ongoing.
City Councilmember Joe Borelli (R-SI) wrote on social media scoffing at the questions about the mayor and the permitting for the Turkish consulate: “If this is really the smoking gun, its neither smoking, nor a gun…” He went on to say that if this is the alleged wrongdoing then “…Every elected official is about to be arrested.”
Mayor Adams faced dozens of questions from reporters today about what appears to be a growing federal criminal investigation into his campaign fundraising. Melissa Russo reports.