FBI obtains warrant to examine Clinton emails: US media

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.

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James Comey through the years
FBI Director James Comey waits before testifying at a House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
UNITED STATES - JUNE 14: Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey speaks at a conference at the Bloomberg News Bureau in Washington DC June 14, 2004. (Photo by Ken Cedeno/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama announces James Comey (L), a Republican who served in the Bush Justice Department, as his choice to replace Robert Mueller as the next FBI director, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: US Deputy Attorney General James Comey (L) and FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Gary Bald take questions 05 August, 2004, at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, after announcing that two men from Albany, New York, were arrested charging each with concealing material support for terrorism and participating in a money laundering conspiracy. Mosque Imam Yassin Aref, 34, and mosque founder Mohammed Hoosain, 49, were arrested following a raid on an Albany mosque late 04 August. Officials said the two men had agreed to launder money to help a presumed terrorist, actually an undercover FBI agent, buy a shoulder-fired missile. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: James Comey (L) FBI Director nominee walks with outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (R) to a ceremony annoucing Comey's nomination in the Rose Garden at the White House June 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, would replace Mueller. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), arrives to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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. Photo: Rodrigo Garcia/NurPhoto (Photo by NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)
FBI Director James B. Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20: Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of a visit to the Denver FBI Field Office on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Director Comey's visit to the Denver FBI Field Office is part of his plan to visit all FBI Field Offices in his first year as director. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The shadow of FBI Director James Comey is seen as he addresses the audience during the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) annual meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey adjusts his tie before testifying to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ?Russia?s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the "Oversight of the State Department" in Washington U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: FBI Director James Comey arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a classified briefing on Russia for all members of the House of Representatives January 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The internal Office of the Inspector General at the Justice Department announced yesterday that it is conducting a review on the handling of FBI and DOJ's investigation into the Hillary Clinton private e-mail server case. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ?Russia?s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 10: FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (L-R) arrive to testify before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence heads testified to the committee about cyber threats to the United States and fielded questions about effects of Russian government hacking on the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 8: Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey (L) announces indictment of the former Enron CEO, Kenneth Lay, while FBI Director Robert Mueller listens July 8, 2004 in Washington DC. Lay was indicted on 11 counts, including securities and wire fraud and false and misleading statements surrounding the collapse of the energy giant. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
James Brien Comey, Jr. (born December 14, 1960) is the seventh and current Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 31: Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey announces the arrest in Italy of alleged Russian mobster Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov on charges that he engineered the ice-skating vote swap scandal that rocked the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Tokhtakhounov allegedly fixed the Russian skaters' victory in figure skating in exchange for throwing the gold medal to two French ice dancers. Amid worldwide outrage, the Canadian figure skaters were eventually awarded a second gold medal. , (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: FBI Director nominee James Comey (L) speaks as U.S. President Barack Obama (R) looks on during a ceremony announcing Comey's nomination in the Rose Garden of the White House June 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey is a former Justice Department official in the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 18: Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey during an interview wirth the Daily News. (Photo by Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JUNE 08: The Honorable James Comey, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, is sworn in before delivering testimony during the House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act June 8, 2005 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Committee has heard from 30 witnesses during its 10 hearings this year, from both supporters and those with concerns over certain aspects of this anti-terrorism law. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), laughs during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: James Comey, right, President Obama's nominee as the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, meets with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: FBI Director James Comey testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee February 4, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to examine threats to the U.S. from all around the world. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey (L) and US Attorney General Eric Holder announce a record 8.9 billion USD fine against the French bank BNP Paribas for violating international sanctions during a press conference at the US Justice Department in Washington on June 30, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James B. Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey speaks at the Intelligence National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) sits with FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office in Washington after making comments to the media about shootings at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 08: FBI Director James Comey speaks at a cybersecurity conference at Boston College on March 8, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Comey, delivering the keynote address to the two-day conference, did not address recent claims by President Donald Trump that former President Barack Obama ordered a a wiretap of then-candidate Trump. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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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

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)

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)

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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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