Washington: The FBI has obtained a warrant to search newly-discovered emails related to US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin, media reports said.
The discovery of the 650,000 emails has come just days before election day on November 8.
“The process has begun,” a federal law enforcement official said.
The FBI stumbled upon the emails from Abedin weeks ago, law enforcement officials told CNN Sunday.
However, FBI Director James Comey didn’t disclose the discovery until Friday, raising questions about why the information was kept under wraps and then released only days before the election.
The Justice Department has obtained a warrant that will allow it to begin searching the computer that is believed to contain thousands of newly found emails of Huma Abedin, two law enforcement sources confirmed to CNN.
Investigators had taken possession of many computers related to the inquiry of Huma Abedin’s estranged husband Anthony Weiner in early October. Weiner is being probed about alleged sexting with a purportedly underage girl.
It is unclear what connection, if any, the newly discovered emails might have to the Clinton email investigation.
Clinton declared that the FBI investigation would not deter her.
“We won’t be distracted, no matter what our opponents throw at us,” . Clinton said. “We’re not going to be knocked off course. We know how much this election matters, and we know how many people are counting on us,” she said, addressing a rally with gay and lesbian supporters in Florida on Sunday.
Harry Reid, Senate Democratic leader, on Saturday night accused FBI director James Comey of possibly breaking federal law by announcing the new steps in the email investigation so close to the election.
“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” Reid wrote in a letter to Comey.
“I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”
The FBI warrant to search came two days after James Comey revealed the existence of the emails.
The sources said Abedin used the same laptop to send thousands of emails to Clinton, NBC news reported.
The FBI already had a warrant to search Weiner’s laptop, but that only applied to evidence of his allegedly illicit communications with an underage girl.
The latest batch of messages will now be compared with those that have already been investigated to determine whether any classified information was sent from Clinton’s server.
In a letter to Congress, Comey said the FBI learned “of the existence of e-mails that appear to be pertinent” to the Clinton probe, but he added that the agency “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant”.
Reid, in his letter, also accused Comey of shielding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from scrutiny over his connections to Russia. He said, “it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination” between Trump and his advisers and the Russian government.
Comey had earlier said in an internal message to the FBI employees that “we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed”.
The note added that it would “be misleading if the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of e-mails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression”, NBC reported.