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Mayor Eric Adams fields questions nearly 1 week after FBI raid of chief fundraiser

Mayor Adams fields questions nearly 1 week after FBI raid of chief fundraiser
Mayor Adams fields questions nearly 1 week after FBI raid of chief fundraiser 02:39

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams was on the hot seat Wednesday, grilled for nearly an hour about why he suddenly left a White House meeting on the asylum seeker crisis to return to New York after an FBI raid on the home of his chief fundraiser.

For many New Yorkers, it has been hard to understand why the mayor, who has said the migrant crisis could destroy the city, blew off the meeting in D.C. and an opportunity to press the Biden administration for desperately needed help.

CBS New York's Marcia Kramer inquired about that.

"Do you think it was a wise optic for you to have come home, given the fact that migrants are probably your number one problem?" Kramer asked.

"You can't govern by optics. You gotta govern by action. And if you govern by any time someone going to perceive something and put a tint to it then you're not going to make the right decisions," Adams said.

There were dozens of reporters at the mayor's weekly off-topic media availability and most asked some variation of the same question: Why, exactly, did he rush back to New York City from Washington after the FBI raided chief fundraiser Brianna Suggs' Crown Heights brownstone, reportedly looking for evidence the campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal contributions.

Adams had several answers, one was about the effect of the raid on the young fundraiser.

"As a human being, I was concerned about a young 25-year-old staffer that went through a traumatic experience, and although I'm mayor, I have not stopped being a man and a human," Adams said.

Watch: Mayor Adams fields questions after FBI raid of chief fundraiser 36:07

The mayor offered few details about what he did when he returned to New York. He made several public appearances that night, but conceded he never spoke to Suggs.

"I did not speak with Brianna the day of the incident because I did not want to give any appearance of interference," Adams said.

The mayor shrugged off his interactions with Turkish officials, including a Turkish flag raising last month, saying New York is an international city and he tries to show respect for the many different ethnic communities.

"The mayor, his team, City Hall, we're incredibly respectful of legal process, but that doesn't mean anyone should make legal assumptions, and I think, as you know, there have been no accusations of wrongdoing," said Lisa Zornberg, counsel to the mayor.

The mayor insists his staff follows the rules and that he "sleeps well at night" because of it. Nevertheless, he said he has retained the firm of Wilmer Hale to represent him. His former chief counsel, Brendan McGuire, just returned there to practice law.

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