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Politics

NY Times Reports Aide is Cooperating with Investigation of Mayor Adams

NEW YORK – The New York Times has reported that “an aide to Mayor Eric Adams who served as his longtime liaison to the Turkish community has turned against him and is cooperating with the corruption investigation into Mr. Adams and his 2021 campaign, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.”

Brendan R. McGuire, a lawyer representing Adams, said in a statement that Abbasova’s cooperation was “not a new or meaningful development… It is our understanding that Ms. Abbasova has been talking to investigators since her improper conduct was reported by the administration in November” of 2023.

The Times nevertheless reports that “cooperation of the aide…could represent a significant development in the broad corruption inquiry, which has focused in part on whether Mr. Adams’s campaign conspired with the Turkish government to funnel illegal foreign donations into campaign coffers – and whether Mr. Adams pressured Fire Department officials to sign off on a new high-rise Turkish consulate despite safety concerns.”

It was unclear, according to the article “what information Ms. Abbasova, the director of protocol for the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, provided to the federal authorities. But she has been involved in or has had knowledge of some of Mr. Adams’s dealings with Turkish government officials and businessmen, according to emails. She also helped coordinate events and meetings with members of the Turkish community in New York and abroad and arranged some of his travel, accompanying him on two official trips to Turkey, records show.”

Abbasova, 41 years old, is from Azerbaijan and worked for Adams in his office for about four years when he was borough president of Brooklyn. After the F.B.I. searched her home on Nov. 2 she started talking to F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors. Also on Nov. 2, agents searched the homes of the mayor’s top fund-raiser and a former Turkish Airlines executive.

No one, including the Mayor, has been formally accused of wrongdoing. “It is unclear whether she [Abbasova] has signed a formal cooperation deal with federal prosecutors in exchange for leniency or whether she will plead guilty to any crimes in connection with the alleged foreign donation scheme. But she has been providing federal authorities with information about the matters they are investigating” the Times reported.

Adams has denied wrongdoing and the Times writes that he “said he always tells his staff to follow the law.”

The investigation has had some dramatic moments already. “Four days after searching the homes of Ms. Abbasova and the others, F.B.I. agents approached Mr. Adams on the street after an event at New York University in Greenwich Village. They asked his security detail to step aside, climbed into his car with him, handed him a court-authorized warrant and seized his electronic devices. Federal agents and prosecutors have made few public moves since then,” the article says.

The warrant for the search of the Brooklyn home of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser, Brianna Suggs, said that officials were “seeking evidence to support potential charges that included wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, theft of federal funds and conspiracy to steal federal funds, as well as campaign contributions by foreign nationals and conspiracy to make such contributions.”

There is evidence suggesting that the Turkish Airlines executive, in coordination with Ms. Abbasova, helped arrange upgrades for Adams on Turkish Airlines.

Abbasova studied medicine and dentistry in Azerbaijan and Turkey before moving to the United States and going into government service. “During Mr. Adams’s first term as borough president,” the Times notes, “Abbasova helped him make connections with Brooklyn’s small Turkish and Azerbaijani communities.” The paper reports there are “4,625 Turkish-born Brooklynites, making them the borough’s 38th largest group of foreign-born New Yorkers.”

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