WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has permission to sort through hundreds of thousands of emails on a computer belonging to the husband of one of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s top aides because some of them may relate to a now-closed investigation into Clinton’s private email server.
The FBI received a warrant to investigate about 650,000 emails on a laptop shared by Anthony Weiner with his estranged wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The emails may relate to a months-long investigation to find whether Clinton or her surrogates broke federal law by sending email through her private email server, according to the director of the FBI.
The emails were discovered by FBI agents weeks ago during an unrelated investigation into Weiner allegedly sexting with a 15-year-old girl.
While searching Weiner’s computer for child pornography, metadata on the laptop showed thousands of messages sent to and from Clinton’s private home email server.
Investigating the emails will take weeks, according to the FBI, but they couldn’t start reviewing them without a court order because the Weiner probe is completely unrelated to the Clinton email investigation.
The timing of the announcement was questioned by Democrats almost immediately because of the potential effect of any revelation relating to the emails — including just reopening the investigation — on the presidential election, which is a week and a half away.
“We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes,” Clinton said in Des Moines on Friday. “The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid suggested Sunday that Comey violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from meddling in politics and elections by announcing the new discovery could affect the Clinton investigation.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which has policies and procedures for handling investigations that may effect the outcome of an election, also urged Comey not to send the letter, however he felt his testimony to Congress required him to update them on the newly found emails.
“Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I felt an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed,” Comey wrote in a memo published Friday. “I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump immediately worked to capitalize on the news of developments in the controversial investigation, pouncing on the opportunity to turn voters attention back to Clinton’s emails.
Trump suggested at a rally Sunday that the unearthed emails could be the smoking gun that Clinton “set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her criminal conduct from the public disclosure and exposure.”
“To cover up her crimes, she bleached and deleted 33,000 emails after receiving a congressional subpoena,” Trump said. “But I have a feeling they’ve just found a lot of them, don’t you think? Have a feeling. Huma. They just found a lot of them. We never thought we were going to say thank you to Anthony Weiner.”