FBI seized phones, iPad from New York Mayor Eric Adams in escalation of fundraising investigation

FILE - New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks in New York's Times Square during a news conference on Dec. 30, 2022. FBI agents seized phones and an iPad from Adams this week as part of an investigation into his campaign finances, according to a published report, Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)
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Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — FBI agents seized phones and an iPad from New York City Mayor Eric Adams this week as part of an investigation into his campaign fundraising, his attorney confirmed Friday.

The seizures happened after the mayor attended a public event Monday night, according to a statement from the mayor’s attorney, Boyd Johnson.

“On Monday night, the FBI approached the mayor after an event. The Mayor immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with electronic devices,” the statement said. “The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing and continues to cooperate with the investigation.”

The seizure of the devices, first reported by The New York Times, came days after federal agents searched the Brooklyn home of Adams’ top campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs. That search prompted the mayor to cancel a planned trip to meet with White House officials in Washington and instead return to New York.

Adams, a Democrat, said nothing publicly about his phones being seized when he met with reporters on Wednesday and said he wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing by members of his campaign team. He expressed confidence that everyone working for him was following the law.

In a statement Friday, Johnson said Adams was committed to cooperating with the probe. He also implied that wrongdoing had, in fact, been uncovered, but didn’t say what.

“After learning of the federal investigation, it was discovered that an individual had recently acted improperly. In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, this behavior was immediately and proactively reported to investigators,” he said, offering no further details.

A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney in Manhattan declined to comment.

“As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all members of my staff to follow the law and fully cooperate with any sort of investigation—and I will continue to do exactly that. I have nothing to hide,” Adams, a former police captain, said in a statement.

The focus of the investigation hasn’t been publicly disclosed by prosecutors, but a search warrant obtained by the New York Times indicated authorities are examining whether the Adams campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive donations from foreign sources, funneled through straw donors.

Photos show Adams spoke at an autism awareness event at New York University on Monday evening. The following day, his spokesperson announced that Adams would not travel to Puerto Rico for an annual conference that is widely attended by New York’s political players.

At his news conference Wednesday, Adams told reporters that his absence was the result of New York’s fiscal belt-tightening. Flyers show that Adams was previously scheduled to receive a humanitarian award at the conference.

The Democrat also reiterated earlier statements that he had no personal knowledge of any improper fundraising, and didn’t believe he had anything to personally fear from the investigation. At the time, the mayor’s chief City Hall lawyer had confirmed that the administration was communicating with federal prosecutors, but declined to discuss what that entailed.

A campaign spokesperson said the FBI had already returned some, but not all, of Adams’ devices. The spokesperson declined to specify which devices were not returned.

Adams, 63, was elected mayor two years ago and has been in office since January 2022. He went into politics after a 22-year police career, serving as a state senator and in the largely ceremonial position of Brooklyn borough president before running for mayor.

A political centrist, Adams rode a tough-on-crime message to victory in the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary before defeating Republican Curtis Sliwa in the general election.