Adams says he had no role in firing NYC lawyer who confronted him over toddler masks

by Abdulhaqq Obisesan Oladimeji
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Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday stood by the New York City Law Department’s decision to fire an attorney who interrupted one of his press conferences to speak out against the city’s mask mandate for pre-K students.

At a press conference on Monday, law department attorney Daniela Jampel criticized Adams’ decision to keep the city’s mask mandate in place for children under the age of five. His administration on Friday successfully requested a stay to keep the rule in place after a Staten Island court struck it down.

“You reneged on your promise, and not only did you renege on your promise, you had your lawyers race to court on Friday night,” Jampel said to Adams.

After the briefing, a spokesman for the law department said the agency had already decided to fire Jampel before she spoke to Adams. The spokesman also claimed Jampel had impersonated a reporter in order to address the mayor.

“Ms. Jampel has made troubling claims about her work for the city Law Department. Based on those statements, the decision had been made to terminate her prior to today,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Today’s events, however, which include her decision to lie to City Hall staff and state she was a journalist at a press conference, demonstrate a disturbing lack of judgment and integrity.”

Asked about the incident at a news briefing on Wednesday, Adams said he “didn’t know who [Jampel] was” when she addressed him.

“One, anyone who was there at the press conference, when she spoke, it was, clearly she was not a reporter, but what did I do? I said, ‘Allow her to speak,'” he said. “We started allowing her to speak. I’m not going to be disrespectful and not allow her to speak. She spoke.”

Adams also said he felt one of Jampel’s tweets had been “inappropriate,” without specifying which tweet he was referring to.

A City Hall spokesperson later identified the tweet in question, which Jampel, according to City Hall, eventually deleted. In the tweet, Jampel said her job involved defending “cops who lie in court, teachers who molest children, [and] prison guards who beat inmates.”

“It is a job I’ve done proudly. Until tonight. Fighting to keep masks on toddlers is shameful. I am ashamed of my job,” the tweet went on to say.

According to City Hall, Jampel’s tweet came in response to Mayor Adams’ decision on Friday to appeal a Staten Island judge’s ruling that struck down a mask mandate for children under five.

“Listen, I’m an ex-cop. People have been calling me names for years. Doesn’t bother me. But what she tweeted, sent out, it was inappropriate,” Adams said. “And the law department made the decision and notified me prior to that press conference of their actions, and any questions, you can find out from the law department. I had no interaction with that at all.”

Jampel on Monday declined to comment on the law department’s statement or her remarks at Adams’ press conference.

“My statement is that I am retaining counsel and will not litigate in the press,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet, adding: “Je ne regrette rien,” or “I regret nothing” in French.

Last month, Adams said his administration would lift the mandate on April 4 if the city’s COVID-19 statistics remained low. He cited a rise in cases linked to the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 when he announced his decision to keep it in place.

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