The FBI is investigating whether there was classified information in newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton’s private servers.
The FBI announcement has re-injected one of the most toxic political issues into the presidential campaign less than two weeks before Election Day on Nov 8.
The FBI had announced in July that its investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate’s email practices had concluded with a recommendation of no criminal charges in the matter.
But in a letter sent to members of Congress on Friday, James Comey, the FBI’s director, said new emails had been discovered in an “unrelated” case.
It was not clear from Comey’s letter where the new emails came from or who sent or received them.
He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.
Officials speaking to US media said the new trove of emails that would be examined by the FBI emerged from a sexting investigation of Anthony Weiner, a former congressman who was the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Officials told NBC News the emails were found on a laptop that Weiner allegedly used to send inappropriate text messages and pictures to an underage girl.
Investigators also discovered that Abedin had used the same laptop to send emails to Clinton and now they are checking those messages to see if there was any classified information on them, the sources said.
Trump blast Clinton
Within minutes of the news, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used Comey’s letter to attack Clinton on the campaign trail.
He said the political system “might not be as rigged as I thought” now that the FBI had decided to investigate new emails found.
At a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump praised the FBI, saying “I think they are going to right the ship, folks”
That is a new tune for Trump, who has repeatedly complained that the Washington establishment has rigged the political system against him.
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the Trump rally, said there was an “absolute roar with approval” from his supporters as Trump told them about the FBI announcement.
“It really touches on a central theme of Trump’s campaign,” our correspondent said. “I spoke to several people here who said they hope this eventually leads to Clinton ending up in jail.”
The chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign said Comey owed it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what his agents were now examining related to the Democratic nominee.
John Podesta said Comey’s letter was extraordinary, coming just 11 days before the presidential election.
He added that he was confident the new information will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July, when the bureau ended its investigation.
A yearlong investigation by the FBI focused on whether Clinton sent or received classified information using the private server located in the basement of her New York home, which was not authorised to handle such messages.
“This is a damaging bombshell from the FBI that she would have to cope with until Election Day and potentially, into the White House,” Al Jazeera’s John Hendren reported from a Clinton rally on Friday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she made no reference to the emails.
“She’s already getting negative ratings in polls on the issue of being trusted.”
A new poll, conducted before Friday’s news, gave Clinton a lead of six percentage points over Trump.
The Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll suggested Trump is losing support among women.
The October 21-27 opinion poll found 42% of people who either voted already or expect to vote in the Nov 8 election supporting Clinton, versus 36% backing Trump. Clinton’s lead a week ago was 4 points.