Mayor's Upcoming Meeting with Federal Prosecutors an Unwelcome Distraction for City Hall
Mayor Bill de Blasio spent another day facing questions about the investigations into his administration. He was quizzed about his upcoming meeting with federal prosecutors and how he plans to pay his legal bills. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
The mayor's upcoming meeting with federal prosecutors is an unwelcome distraction for City Hall.
"I am very comfortable with the dialogue I am going to have because we did everything the right way," Bill de Blasio said.
At an unrelated news conference at the Queensbridge Houses to celebrate a year without a single shooting inside the city's largest public housing project, the mayor faced a flurry of questions about his legal battles. There have been multiple investigations into his fundraising and political activities, leading to a sitdown with the U.S. attorney's office. He would not say which side initiated the meeting, which he says will happen in the coming weeks.
"I'm not present for all the discussions between lawyers. That's not what I do. And I am not going to get into the details of things I was not part of," de Blasio said.
De Blasio also refused to say whether he was granted immunity to appear before prosecutors. An aide later told NY1 he was not given immunity and said the mayor did not request it either.
Then, there's the question of the mayor's legal bills. The city has budgeted $11.6 million to pay for outside counsel related to the investigations. But the mayor appeared to incorrectly assert that none of that money is being spent on him.
"All legal efforts on my behalf are not paid for by the taxpayer as opposed to other city employees. It is money that will have to be raised," de Blasio said.
The city is footing the bill for lawyers addressing the investigations into official activities by city employees, including the mayor.
Additionally, de Blasio also has his own outside lawyer. And he raised the possibility that he might create a legal defense fund for himself, which would require more fundraising.
"I guess you didn't know I'm not a billionaire like my predecessor," de Blasio said.
Fundraising, of course, is what got the mayor into some of this mess. Federal prosecutors have been examining whether donors to the mayor's former nonprofit group got official favors from City Hall in return.