DADE CITY, Fla.,/WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A top aide to Hillary Clinton urged the FBI on Tuesday (Nov 1) to disclose what it knows about any ties between Donald Trump and Russia, accusing the agency of unfairly publicising its inquiry into Clinton's email practices while staying quiet about the Republican presidential nominee.
The FBI opened a preliminary inquiry in recent months into allegations that Trump or his associates might have had questionable dealings with Russian people or businesses, but found no evidence to warrant opening a full investigation, according to sources familiar with the matter. The agency has not publicly discussed the probe.
A week before Election Day, the Clinton campaign is trying to contain damage from an announcement by FBI Director James Comey on Friday (Oct 28) that his agency was looking into new emails that might relate to Clinton's use of a private server while she was secretary of state.
Trump and other Republicans seized on Comey's announcement, which did not indicate any wrongdoing by Clinton, to intensify criticism of the Democratic candidate. She leads in most opinion polls ahead of the Nov 8 election.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook questioned why the Federal Bureau of Investigation director had not released any information about the agency's Russia inquiries. "If you're in the business of releasing information about investigations on presidential candidates, release everything you have on Donald Trump. Release the information on his connections to the Russians," Mook said on CNN.
The FBI inquiry reviewed allegations that Trump or his associates might have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or engaged in contacts or commerce with people in Russia who are subject to US or international financial sanctions.
The US government has blamed Russia for cyber attacks on Democratic Party organisations. Democrats criticise Trump for taking what they say is a pro-Russia foreign policy stance.
Russia's possible role in the campaign again came into focus when online magazine Slate said that a group of computer scientists had been alarmed by records showing thousands of apparent connection attempts between an email server operated on behalf of the Trump Organization and computers inside a Russian company, Alfa Bank in Moscow.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the server, which had been used to send out hotel marketing material, had been dormant for years.
Prominent US cyber security company FireEye said it had been hired by Alfa Bank to investigate the records and had been granted access to the bank's systems in Moscow to look for evidence of any relationship with Trump's company or any signs of hacking or infection. FireEye said so far it had found no emails being sent back and forth or any other link.
CLINTON POLL LEAD
Opinion polls show Clinton's lead has narrowed slightly since early last week but it is too early to say if the email controversy is hurting her.
Clinton led businessman Trump in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters on Monday, by 44 per cent to 39 per cent.
Clinton, hoping to be the first woman elected to the White House, strengthened her lead over Trump in polls after the release last month of a 2005 video in which the Republican bragged in vulgar terms about groping women.
In a dramatic twist to the election campaign, Comey told Congress on Friday that the FBI was reviewing newly discovered emails that might relate to Clinton's use of a private email server, instead of a government one, when she was secretary of state.
Comey had announced in July that the FBI had completed a probe into the email practices, concluding there were no grounds to bring any charges.
Clinton's team has been furiously pressing the FBI to provide details on the new trove of emails, which Comey said may or may not be significant in the case.
Little is publicly known yet about the emails, other than that they were found during an unrelated probe into Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The New York Times also assailed Comey, accusing him in an editorial in its Tuesday edition of sending "a brief, inscrutable, election-shaking letter" in a "breathtakingly rash and irresponsible decision."
Comey's letter has provided Republicans with new fodder for attack in the waning days of the campaign. US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that a Clinton presidency would bog down in "scandal baggage."
In an effort to shift the focus back to Trump's weak points, the Clinton campaign released a provocative new ad raising the specter of a possible nuclear war if Trump is elected president.
Clinton said at rallies in the battleground state of Ohio on Monday that Trump, who has never held elected office, has a cavalier attitude toward nuclear weapons.
She was speaking at a rally on Tuesday in Dade City, Florida.