FBI obtains warrant to examine Clinton emails: US media

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WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Federal investigators have secured a warrant to examine newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton's private server, U.S. media reported on Sunday, as a prominent Democrat accused FBI Director James Comey of breaking the law by trying to influence the election.

The warrant will allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine the emails to see if they are relevant to its probe of the private email server used for government work by Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Related: James Comey through the years

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James Comey through the years
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James Comey through the years
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District James Comey, fields questions in New York after he announced the arrest of Alimzan Tokhtakhounov in Italy on U.S. charges that he tried to fix the pairs and ice dancing figure skating competitions at the Salt Lake City Olympics Wednesday, July 31, 2002. In the backround right is Greg Jones, acting assistant director of the FBI for the New York office. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
James Comey, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York, right, speaks at a news conference about the arraignment of the three men charged with wire fraud conspiracy for allegedly tampering with bets made at tracks and Off Track Betting parlors, at U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002. New York State Police Superintendent James McMahon stands at left. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
U.S. Attorney James Comey, left, announces to the media Thursday, Sept. 4, 2003, in New York a seven count indictment charging John Youngdahl, a former V.P. and Senior Economist at Goldman Sachs & Company with conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud, among other charges, in connection with confidential information about the Treasury Department's plan to end sales of 30-year bonds. In the backround is Thomas Van De Merlen, center, Assistant New York Inspector in charge of the U.S Postal Inspection Service and Stephen Cutler, right, with the Division of Enforcement of the SEC. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
Deputy Attorney General James Comey, second left, with Drug Enforcement Administration chief Karen Tandy, second right, Internal Revenue Service Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations Richard Speier, left, and Raf Souccar, Chief Superintendent and Director General of Drugs and Organized Crime, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, right, speaks to the press during a news conference announcing the rounding up of 170 people in the United States and Canada who they said were part of a distribution ring responsible for 15 percent of all the Ecstasy smuggled into this country, in Washington, March 31, 2004. The two-year investigation, dubbed "Operation Candy Box," culminated in the arrests of nearly the entire trafficking operation, from kingpins to couriers. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, head of the Justice Department's corporate fraud task force, discusses charges against Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, in Washington at the Department of Justice, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004. Skilling, who resigned months before the company shattered in scandal, surrendered Thursday and pleaded innocent to more than three dozen federal charges in the company's collapse. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Deputy Attorney General James Comey holds a news conference in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2004, in Washington, regarding the arrest of two leaders of a mosque in Albany, N.Y., allegedly involved in a scheme to buy a shoulder-fired missile. Court papers filed in the case alleged that the weapon was to be used to assassinate the Pakistani ambassador at that country's consulate across from the United Nations in New York. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
FBI Director James Comey speaks speaks during the Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FBI Director nominee James Comey is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination. Comey spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor before serving in the George W. Bush administration, where he is best known for facing down the White House over a warrantless surveillance program. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Attorney General Eric Holder, second from left, shakes hands with newly sworn in FBI Director James Comey at the Justice Department in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Chuck Rosenberg holds the bible and Deputy Attorney General James Cole watches at left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama smiles as he announces the nomination of James Comey, left, a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert Mueller as FBI director, Friday, June 21, 2013, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
FBI Director Robert Mueller, left, acknowledges the applause from President Barack Obama and the president's nominee to replace Mueller , James Comey, center, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - In this July 9, 2013 file photo, FBI Director nominee James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Comey Monday, July 29, 2013, to become FBI director after Sen. Rand Paul ended delaying tactics against the nomination because of concerns about the domestic use of drones. Monday's 93-1 vote put Comey in line to succeed Robert Mueller, who is stepping down in September after 12 years heading the agency. Paul was the only no vote. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
FBI Director nominee James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination. Comey spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor before serving in the George W. Bush administration, where he is best known for facing down the White House over a warrantless surveillance program. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, left, waves as he stands with newly installed FBI Director James Comey, right, during the installation ceremony of Comey as the new FBI Director at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Newly installed FBI Director James Comey speaks during his installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. Comey, a former Bush administration official who defiantly refused to go along with White House demands on warrantless wiretapping nearly a decade ago, took over last month for Robert Mueller, who stepped down after 12 years as agency director. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, right, listens as James Comey, left, speaks during the installation ceremony of Comey as the new FBI Director at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
This Oct. 31, 2013 photo shows James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, talking to reporters during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. An ongoing federal investigation of a California senator is roiling the Democratic leadership in Sacramento and threatens to complicate relations in the majority party when lawmakers reconvene in January. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
FBI Director James Comey, right, talks to Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, left, during a meeting in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
From left, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sit together in the front row before President Barack Obama spoke about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington. The president called for ending the government's control of phone data from millions of Americans. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Dir. of National Intelligence James Clapper, center, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Joining Clapper on the panel are from left to right, National Counterterrorism Center Dir. Matthen Olsen, FBI Dir. James Comey, CIA Dir. John Brennan, and Defense Intelligence Agency Dir. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FBI Director James Comey speaks during a news conference at the FBI Omaha Field Office in Omaha, Neb., as agency employees line the balconies above, and local law enforcement leaders stand behind him, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Comey will tour the agency's Omaha Field Office and meet with local law enforcement leaders. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey listens to a question from a reporter during a media conference Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 21, 2104, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the oversight of the FBI. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
FBI Director James Comey speaks on during a news conference at the bureau's Salt Lake City office Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Comey met with state and local law enforcement leaders from Utah, Idaho and Montana during a visit to Utah Tuesday. Comey spoke to the media during his visit, part of a national tour of FBI offices. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
FBI director James Comey speaks to the media during a visit to the agencyâs Atlanta field office, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Atlanta. The FBI director says the participation of Americans and Europeans in Islamist extremist activities in Syria and Iraq is worrisome, but that his agency is committed to making sure they donât carry out attacks in the U.S. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, testifies before the House Homeland Security Full Committee, during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, FBI Director James B. Comey speaks at a news conference during a visit to Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
FBI Director James B. Comey, right, is joined by U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall during a news conference in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Comey spoke after the sentencing in federal court of Mohamed Mohamud, who was convicted last year of a terrorism charge. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
FBI Director James Comey speaks about the impact of technology on law enforcement, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at Brookings Institution in Washington. Comey gave a stark warning Thursday against smartphone data encryption, saying homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could go free and âjustice may be denied because of a locked phone or an encrypted hard drive.â (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
FBI Director James Comey takes questions from members of the media during a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, in Boston. Comey is visiting the Boston division to meet with employees and law enforcement partners and talk about the FBI's priorities. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FBI Director James Comey speaks about the impact of technology on law enforcement, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at Brookings Institution in Washington. Comey gave a stark warning Thursday against smartphone data encryption, saying homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could go free and âjustice may be denied because of a locked phone or an encrypted hard drive.â (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
In this July 8, 2015, photo, FBI Director James Comey testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The FBI stopped several potential acts of violence in the month before the July 4 weekend, Comey said on July 9. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
FBI Director James Comey takes questions from members of the media during a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, in Boston. Comey is visiting the Boston division to meet with employees and law enforcement partners and talk about the FBI's priorities. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FBI Director James Comey speaks to the media during a news conference at the FBI offices in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Comey said Wednesday the recruitment of potential homegrown terrorists by the Islamic State group is widespread and goes on "24 hours a day" across the United States. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FBI Director James Comey attends a news conference at the FBI offices in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Comey said Wednesday the recruitment of potential homegrown terrorists by the Islamic State group is widespread and goes on "24 hours a day" across the United States. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FBI director James Comey responds to a question during a panel discussion on race and policy, at the University of Chicago law school. Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FBI Director James Comey answers questions during a news conference at the FBI office in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Comey said the killing of four Marines and a sailor in an attack on Chattanooga's U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center in July is still under investigation. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
FBI director James Comey responds to a question during a panel discussion on race and policy, at the University of Chicago law school. Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 12/16/15 FBI Director James Comey at a press conference to discuss terrorism. (NYC)
In this photo made on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, an image of James B. Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, right, arrives with Scott S. Smith special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh Division for a news conference at the Martha Dixon FBI Field Office in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
FBI Director James Comey, testifies before a House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee budget hearing about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's FY 2017 budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
FBI Director James Comey addresses the media after visiting with employees and other law enforcement officials, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
FBI Directory James Comey applauds in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016, during a Medal of Valor ceremony. The Medal of Valor is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
FILE - In this March 1, 2016 file photo, FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Working to protect Americans' civil rights is in some ways more difficult today because of an assumption that advances mean the fight for equality has been settled, Comey said Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
FBI Director James Comey, right, listens to President Barack Obama, left, speak to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 13, 2016, after receiving an update on the massacre at an Orlando nightclub. Comey says the gunman in the Orlando nightclub attack that killed 49 people had "strong indications of radicalization" and was likely inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 7, 2016, before the House Oversight Committee to explain his agency's recommendation to not prosecute Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential candidate, over her private email setup during her time as secretary of state, . (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 7, 2016, before the House Oversight Committee to explain his agency's recommendation to not prosecute Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential candidate, over her private email setup during her time as secretary of state, . (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 7, 2016, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to explain his agency's recommendation to not prosecute Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her private email setup during her time as secretary of state. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FBI Director James Comey, right, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson prepare to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2016, before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on "Worldwide Threats to the Homeland: ISIS and the New Wave of Terror." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, center, with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, left, and FBI Director James Comey, right, sit during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.' (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - In this July 14, 2016 file photo, FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The FBI informed Congress Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, it is investigating whether there is classified information in new emails that have emerged in its probe of Hillary Clinton's private server. The FBI said in July its investigation was finished. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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FBI officials were unavailable for comment on the status of their investigation. Reuters could not independently confirm that the search warrant had been issued.

Comey came under heavy pressure from Democrats on Sunday to quickly provide details of the emails, as Clinton allies worried the prolonged controversy could extend beyond the Nov. 8 election and cast a shadow over a Clinton transition if she wins the White House.

Comey's disclosure of the email discovery in a letter to Congress on Friday plunged the final days of the White House race between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump into turmoil. Clinton had opened a recent lead over Trump in national polls, but it had been narrowing even before the email controversy resurfaced.

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Comey on Sunday suggesting he violated the Hatch Act, which bars the use of a federal government position to influence an election.

"Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law," Reid, a senator from Nevada, said in the letter to Comey.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook questioned Comey's decision to send a letter notifying Congress of the email review before he even knew whether they were significant or relevant.

Comey's letter was "long on innuendo, short on facts," Podesta said on CNN's "State of the Union" program, and accused the FBI chief of breaking precedent by disclosing aspects of an investigation so close to the election.

Related: Clinton addresses FBI email probe

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Hillary Clinton addresses FBI email probe
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Hillary Clinton addresses FBI email probe

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. The FBI dropped what amounts to a political bomb on the Clinton campaign on Friday when it announced it was investigating whether new emails involving the Democratic presidential nominee contain classified information.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, accompanied by campaign manager Robby Mook, second from right, and traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, second from left, departs after speaking at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. Clinton is calling on the FBI to release more information about its review of emails that may be related to its investigation into her private server.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

DES MOINES, IA - OCTOBER 28: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters following a campaign rally at Roosevelt High School on October 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. With less than two weeks to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Iowa.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, center, accompanied by traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, left, arrives to speak at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. The FBI dropped what amounts to a political bomb on the Clinton campaign on Friday when it announced it was investigating whether new emails involving the Democratic presidential nominee contain classified information.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds an unscheduled news conference to talk about FBI inquiries into her emails after a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. October 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leaves after an unscheduled news conference on FBI inquiries about her emails after a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. October 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question during a press conference about the FBI's reopening of a probe into her use of a private email server while secretary of State, in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 28, 2016. The FBI dealt Hillary Clinton's seemingly unstoppable White House campaign a stunning blow Friday by reopening a probe into her use of a private email server while secretary of state. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD

(JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, accompanied by traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, center, departs after speaking at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. Clinton is calling on the FBI to release more information about its review of emails that may be related to its investigation into her private server.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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"We are calling on Mr. Comey to come forward and explain what's at issue here," Podesta said, adding the significance of the emails was unclear.

"He might have taken the first step of actually having looked at them before he did this in the middle of a presidential campaign, so close to the voting," Podesta said.

Comey's letter was sent over the objections of Justice Department officials. But those officials did not try to stop the FBI from getting the warrant, a source familiar with the decision said, because they are interested in the FBI moving quickly on the probe.

Sources close to the investigation have said the latest emails were discovered as part of a separate probe of former Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Weiner is the target of an FBI investigation into illicit text messages he is alleged to have sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

'CHECK ON CORRUPTION'

Sources familiar with the matter said FBI agents working on the Weiner investigation saw material on a laptop belonging to Weiner that led them to believe it might be relevant to the investigation of Clinton's email practices.

Trump has highlighted the issue as proof for his argument that Clinton is corrupt and untrustworthy.

"We have one ultimate check on Hillary's corruption and that is the power of the vote," Trump told a rally in Las Vegas on Sunday. "The only way to beat the corruption is to show up and vote by the tens of millions."

Comey, who announced in July that the FBI's long investigation of Clinton's emails during her time as secretary of state was ending without any charges, said in his letter the agency would review the newly surfaced emails to determine their relevance to the investigation of her handling of classified information.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday showed Clinton with a statistically insignificant 1-point national lead on Trump. About a third of likely voters in the poll said they were less likely to back Clinton given Comey's disclosure.

Clinton, who told a Florida rally on Saturday that Comey's letter was "deeply troubling," did not address the issue directly on Sunday but referred vaguely to voters overcoming a "distraction."

"There's a lot of noise and distraction but it really comes down to the kind of future we want and who can get us there," she told a packed gay nightclub in Wilton Manors, Florida, where hundreds of supporters who could not get in lined the streets outside.

"We don't want a president who would appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn marriage equality," she said.

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