The FBI seizes the phones of New York City Mayor Eric Adams as part of a federal fundraising investigation



CNN

FBI agents seized the cellphones of New York City Mayor Eric Adams as part of a federal investigation into campaign fundraising, a person familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday.

Agents seized the phones and an iPad earlier this week under a court-authorized search warrant, the person said.

The seizure is a major escalation of the federal investigation into whether foreign funds were funneled into his campaign and transferred directly to the mayor, a Democrat. The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are leading the investigation. Adams has not been accused of any wrongdoing yet, but he is the latest politician to come under scrutiny over his ties to foreign governments – in his case Turkey.

The seizure came days after the FBI raided the home of Adams’ top fundraiser as part of an investigation to determine whether the mayor’s 2021 campaign conspired with a Brooklyn-based construction company to funnel foreign funds into campaign coffers.

The New York Times first reported the seizure of Adams’ electronic devices.

“As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all members of my team to follow the law and fully cooperate with any type of investigation — and I will continue to do just that,” the mayor said in a statement to CNN on Friday. “I have nothing to hide.”

Boyd Johnson, an attorney for the Adams campaign and a spokesman, told CNN that the mayor “immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with the electronic devices” after the FBI contacted Adams following Monday night’s event.

“After learning of the federal investigation, it was discovered that an individual had recently behaved inappropriately. In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, this behavior was immediately and proactively reported to investigators,” Johnson said.

He added: “The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing and continues to cooperate with the investigation.”

To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors will need to convince a judge that they have probable cause to find evidence of a crime on electronic devices.

The US Attorney’s Office and the FBI declined to comment.

Teams of FBI agents executed “several search warrants” at homes and businesses across the New York area on November 2, including one at the home of Adams’ campaign chief fundraiser Brianna Suggs, multiple law enforcement sources told CNN.

Law enforcement officials familiar with the search warrants issued last week told CNN that investigators are looking for evidence that foreign nationals — who are prohibited from making contributions — may have been “pooling” donations by going to Turkish American communities in New York and getting American citizens from Turkish origin. To act as “straw contributors”.

The alleged scheme would have allowed money coming from foreign business entities to be disguised as donations from US citizens who did not actually donate the money.

Adams defended his campaign to reporters on Wednesday after news of the raid emerged.

“It would really shock me that someone who was appointed to my campaign would do something inappropriate. Not only would it shock me, it would hurt me,” Adams said.

The mayor has touted his ties with the city’s Turkish American community, noting at a recent flag-raising ceremony in lower Manhattan that he has visited the country at least six or seven times.

Adams traveled to Türkiye at least twice as Brooklyn Borough President. The Turkish Consulate paid for a trip in August 2015 during which he signed a sister city agreement with the Uskudar district of Istanbul.

In September, the same US Attorney’s Office charged Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, with corruption-related crimes, alleging that he received bribes in exchange for helping the Egyptian government. Menendez has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s John Miller, Paul B. Murphy, Jeff Winter and Mark Morales contributed to this report.

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