NEW YORK — At a Tuesday press briefing, Mayor Eric Adams revealed his travels to Turkey go back to his days when he was state senator but wouldn’t commit to releasing full details of his travel to that country, which lies at the heart of an FBI probe into his campaign.
The disclosure came in response to a litany of questions related to the sprawling FBI probe that became public earlier this month. Among some questions Adams didn’t directly answer was whether a suspended City Hall aide once worked for his political operation.
A day earlier, the New York Daily News reported that City Hall staffer Rana Abbasova allegedly told colleagues to delete text exchanges immediately after federal investigators raided her New Jersey home and seized her electronic devices.
A top Adams administration official shared that information with investigators, according to a source, but Adams and his staff declined to comment on any of the circumstances surrounding the matter Tuesday.
Adams did not say whether Abbasova volunteered on his 2021 mayoral campaign, which the feds are probing for possible ties to the Turkish government as well as campaign donations funneled to it through potentially illegal straw donors.
The mayor also would not comment on whom Abbasova allegedly contacted.
“We’re not conducting the investigation. We’re cooperating with it,” his chief counsel Lisa Zornberg said. “So we’re not going to comment in response to the question that you asked.”
The investigation into the 2021 campaign’s ties to Turkey came into public view on Nov. 2 after the FBI raided the home of Brianna Suggs, a top fundraiser for Adams’ 2021 campaign. That same day, Abbasova’s home was raided, and days later, the FBI seized Adams’ electronic devices.
So far, the probe appears to be focused on donations to the Adams campaign from Turkish immigrants working for the Brooklyn-based KSK Construction, as well as contact Adams had with former FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro when he was serving as Brooklyn borough president.
During his time as BP, Adams received a text from Reyhan Özgür, Turkey’s consul general in New York, about fire safety issues at the then-under-construction Turkish consulate building and whether Adams knew Nigro, according to a source. Adams, in turn, asked Nigro to look into the matter, which was ultimately resolved, paving the way for the building’s ribbon cutting, which was attended by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan.
On Tuesday, Adams revealed that he traveled there during his time as a state senator, noting that he also traveled to Azerbaijan at the time. Financial disclosure forms from Adams’ time as a state senator do not list those trips, though, public records show.
He’s also traveled to Turkey twice in his official capacity as borough president, and once on a trip he took with his son, Jordan Coleman.
When asked to provide a complete list of the times he’s traveled to Turkey, who paid for the trips and the purpose of each visit, Adams initially responded during Tuesday’s briefing that he would.
“We will give a complete list of our travel to Turkey,” he said in response to a question from the Daily News. “We’ll give you the complete list.”
But he then made a distinction between “personal” and “governmental” trips.
“We will give the list on what was the governmental trips that we took,” he said. “We followed the procedure every time because I believe in following the procedures.”
When asked to clarify if he’d provide details about what he classified as his personal travel — as he previously said he would — Adams offered a one-word reply.
“Maybe,” he said.
Adams declined to say anything about whether he’s received advice about the federal investigation from Frank Carone, his former City Hall chief of staff and a top adviser during his 2021 campaign.
“I speak with him about a number of things,” Adams said. “I don’t go into personal conversations.”
Responding to a question about the legal defense fund set up in response to the federal probe, Adams noted that Vito Pitta, his campaign compliance attorney, would not serve as a fundraiser for the fund. He added that he’s in the process of hiring someone to carry out that role.
“Something of this magnitude can go into hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million dollars,” he said. “So we want to properly make sure we comply with all the rules, and that’s what we’re doing.”