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FBI obtains warrant to review emails of long-time aide of Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles as she speaks with an employee of Angie's Soul Cafe in Cleveland. Picture by Andrew Harnik, Associated Press 
Eric Tucker, Associated Press

THE FBI has obtained a warrant to begin reviewing newly discovered emails that may be relevant to the Hillary Clinton email server investigation.

FBI investigators want to check emails of long-time Clinton aide Huma Abedin that were found on a device seized during an unrelated sexting investigation of Anthony Weiner, a former New York congressman and Ms Abedin's estranged husband.

A law enforcement official, who has knowledge of the examination, would not reveal when investigators might complete the review of Ms Abedin's emails but said they would move expeditiously.

The Clinton email inquiry, which closed without charges in July, resurfaced suddenly on Friday when FBI director James Comey alerted members of Congress to the existence of emails which he said could be pertinent to that investigation.

One senior Democrat has said Mr Comey may have broken a law that restricts the political activities of federal employees, by acting so close to election day.

The FBI wants to review the emails to see if they contain classified information and were handled properly, which was also the focus of the earlier Clinton inquiry.

Separately on Sunday, another law enforcement official said FBI investigators in the Weiner sexting probe knew for weeks about the existence of the emails potentially related to the probe of Mrs Clinton's server.

In his letter that rocked the White House race, Mr Comey said he had been briefed on Thursday about the Abedin emails and had agreed that investigators should take steps to review them.

The timing of the letter less than two weeks before election day drew criticism from Democrats and some Republicans who cast it as unprecedented and as potentially tipping the scales in the presidential race in favour of Republican Donald Trump.

Energised by the news, the tycoon has rallied his supporters, calling the latest developments worse than Watergate and arguing that his candidacy has the momentum in the final days of the race.

He also highlighted reports that the Justice Department had discouraged the FBI from alerting Congress to the unexpected discovery of the emails, and said the department is trying "so hard" to protect Mrs Clinton.

Dozens of former federal prosecutors, including former attorney general Eric Holder, have signed a letter critical of Mr Comey's decision.

And Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote to Mr Comey saying the action may have violated a law that generally restricts the political activities of federal employees.

Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state has dogged her campaign since early last year.

In July, Mr Comey recommended against criminal prosecution after a months-long investigation, but rebuked Mrs Clinton and her aides for being careless with classified material.

It was not immediately clear what the Abedin emails were about or what significance, if any, they carried to the Clinton email server investigation.

A person familiar with the investigation said the device that appears to be at the centre of the new review was a computer that belonged only to Mr Weiner and was not one he shared with Ms Abedin.

As a result, it was not a device searched for work-related emails at the time of the initial investigation. The person said it is "news to [Ms Abedin]" that her emails would be on a computer belonging to her husband.

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