NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday ordered the unsealing of the application used to obtain a search warrant that allowed the FBI to gain access to emails related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private server before the November 8 election.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan directed the release by Tuesday of redacted materials used to obtain a search warrant after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey informed Congress of newly discovered emails on October 28.
Comey’s letter drew new attention to a damaging issue for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, and roiled the campaign 11 days before the November 8 election, won by Republican Donald Trump.
The search warrant materials’ release sought by Randol Schoenberg, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, who in court papers said transparency was crucial given the potential influence the probe had on the election’s outcome.
Sources close to the investigation have said the emails were discovered during an unrelated probe into former Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
In his order, Castel said he would allow the redaction of the identities of two unnamed individuals, one of whom is subject to an “ongoing criminal investigation.”
But he said the “strong presumption of access attached to the search warrant and related materials is not overcome by any remaining privacy interest of Secretary Clinton.”
Lawyers for Clinton and Abedin did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the U.S. Justice Department. A lawyer for Weiner had no immediate comment.
Clinton used the server while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
In July, Comey recommended no criminal charges be brought over Clinton’s handing of classified information in the emails, although he said she and her colleagues were “extremely careless” in handling such information.
In his October 28 letter to Congress, Comey said emails potentially related to the Clinton server probe had been discovered in an “unrelated case.”
Sources close to the investigation have said the emails were discovered during an unrelated probe into Weiner following a media report that he engaged in sexually explicit cellphone and online messaging with a 15-year-old girl.
Federal investigators got a warrant to examine the emails to see if they were related to the probe into Clinton’s private server. Only two days before the election, Comey disclosed that the emails did nothing to change his earlier recommendation.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell and Alan Crosby)
IMAGE: U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder