(CNN) Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with FBI Director James Comey's decision to notify Congress about his bureau's review of emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton's personal server, law enforcement officials familiar with the discussion said.
There was no direct confrontation between Lynch or Yates and Comey. Instead, the disagreements were conveyed to Comey by Justice Department staff, who advised the FBI chief his letter would be against department policy to not comment on investigations close to an election, the officials said.
They added it was contrary to department policies and procedures, one law enforcement source said.
Comey decided to disregard their concerns and sent the letter Friday anyway, shaking the presidential race 11 days before the election and nearly four months after the FBI chief said he wouldn't recommend criminal charges over the Democratic nominee's use of the server.
The officials acknowledged there was little Lynch and Yates could do given the fallout over Lynch's controversial meeting over the summer with former President Bill Clinton.
Lynch and Yates objected after Comey gave advance notice to top officials at the Justice Department before sending the letter to lawmakers, law enforcement officials briefed on the matter said. Justice officials didn't sign off on Comey's decision and he didn't seek their approval, one official said.
Instead, he made an independent decision to go against longstanding Justice Department and FBI practice to not comment publicly about politically sensitive investigations within 60 days of an election, the official said.
Comey later explained his decision to provide Congress with the information in a letter to FBI employees.
"We don't ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed," Comey said. "I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record."
FBI Director James Comey's letter to employees.
Clinton's campaign and allies quickly decried the decision's timing, and the candidate herself on Friday forcefully called on the FBI to release the "full and complete facts" about its review.
"Voting is underway, so the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately," Clinton said at a brief news conference in Des Moines, Iowa, adding it was "imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay."
Clinton said she was "confident whatever (the emails) are will not change the conclusion reached in July," when Comey said he wouldn't recommend criminal charges in the matter.
Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has spent the past several weeks on defense, seized on the issue.
"Hillary Clinton's corruption is on a scale we've never seen before," Trump said at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office."
Hillary Clinton's email controversy, explained
He later responded to Clinton's statement, saying she "tried to politicize the investigation by attacking and falsely accusing the FBI director of only sending the letter to Republicans."
In a letter to eight congressional committee chairmen Friday, Comey said investigators are examining newly discovered emails that "appear to be pertinent" to the email probe.
"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation," Comey wrote the chairmen. "I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."
The newly discovered emails are part of an investigation into Anthony Weiner, according to law enforcement sources. Weiner, the disgraced former congressman, recently separated from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin after a sexting incident.
The FBI and the New York Police Department have opened preliminary investigations of allegations that Weiner, a former New York Democratic congressman, exchanged sexually explicit text messages with a purportedly underage girl.
Huma Abedin's life and career
Huma Abedin, longtime aide to former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, arrives to speak to the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, October 16.
Abedin watches as Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University on April 29 in New York City.
Abedin (right) looks on during a news conference following Clinton's keynote speech at a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations on March 10.
(Left to right) Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their daughter Chelsea Clinton and Abedin leave the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Abedin stands with her husband, Anthony Weiner, during a news conference on July 23, 2013 as he addressed new allegations that he engaged in lewd online conversations with a woman after he resigned from Congress for similar previous incidents. Weiner was running for mayor of New York City at the time.
In this photo illustration, Weiner (left) appears with Abedin in a YouTube video announcing he will enter the New York City mayoral race on May 22, 2013. Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after admitting to tweeting lewd photos of himself and engaging in inappropriate online relationships with other women.
U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledges Abedin at an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room of the White House August 10, 2012 in Washington.
Abedin talks with a guest during an Iftar dinner at the White House August 10, 2011.
Clinton (right) and Abedin arrive for a NATO Foreign Minister family photo in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin April 14, 2011.
Clinton (right) receives a note from Abedin as she testifies about the State Department's 2012 budget during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on March 10, 2011 in Washington.
Clinton (left), accompanied by Abedin (center), greets people before a meeting on the Flood Emergency in Pakistan September 19, 2010 at United Nations headquarters in New York.
Abedin (right) accompanies then-Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) after Clinton voted in the Democratic primary election on February 5, 2008 in Chappaqua, New York.
Clinton greets people during a campaign stop at The McConnell Center January 7, 2008 in Dover, New Hampshire, as Abedin stands behind her.
Clinton (right) greets people during a campaign stop at Aeroservices, Inc. on January 4, 2008 in Nashua, New Hampshire, accompanied by Abedin.
Abedin walks with Clinton at Andrews Air Force Base in 2000 as the Clintons prepared to leave for a wedding in Arkansas.
The emails in question were sent or received by Abedin, according to a law enforcement official. There were a "considerable number" of emails being reviewed from at least one device shared by Abedin and Weiner, the official said. A separate official described it as thousands of messages.
The FBI is looking at whether any of the newly discovered emails will have an impact on the now-closed investigation into Clinton's server. In his letter, Comey said he was not sure how long the additional review would take and said the FBI "cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant."
Republicans: No honeymoon if Clinton wins
The big question is whether the return of the email storm, which has overshadowed her entire campaign, will have an impact on any remaining undecided voters. Before the latest controversy erupted, Clinton had the advantage in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. She is leading Trump by six points in CNN's Poll of Polls.
Comey under criticism
Comey is under withering criticism from the Clinton campaign and congressional Democrats for releasing the letter so close to the election. Earlier Friday, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said "it's extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election."
He followed up on that criticism in a heated conference call with reporters Saturday, saying Comey's letter was "light on facts, heavy on innuendo, knowing full what Republicans would do with it. It is not up to him who owes the public answers to questions that are now on the table."
Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said she was "shocked" to read Comey's letter.
"Director Comey's announcement played right into the political campaign of Donald Trump," she said in a statement.
Even Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin urged Comey to provide more information: "In line with your commitment to be transparent with Congress and the public, I respectfully request that the FBI provide as much information as possible about these new developments without harming the integrity of its ongoing investigation," Johnson wrote in a letter to Comey.
The FBI chief felt he had no choice but to tell Congress now or risk being accused of hiding relevant information before the election, law enforcement officials said in explaining the timing. The letter was "carefully worded," one of the officials said.
Hillary Clinton's life in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic Party's nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state was the first woman to lead the presidential ticket of a major political party.
Before marrying Bill Clinton, she was Hillary Rodham. Here she attends Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her commencement speech at Wellesley's graduation ceremony in 1969 attracted national attention. After graduating, she attended Yale Law School.
Rodham was a lawyer on the House Judiciary Committee, whose work led to impeachment charges against President Richard Nixon in 1974.
In 1975, Rodham married Bill Clinton, whom she met at Yale Law School. He became the governor of Arkansas in 1978. In 1980, the couple had a daughter, Chelsea.
Arkansas' first lady, now using the name Hillary Rodham Clinton, wears her inaugural ball gown in 1985.
The Clintons celebrate Bill's inauguration in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1991. He was governor from 1983 to 1992, when he was elected President.
Bill Clinton comforts his wife on the set of "60 Minutes" after a stage light broke loose from the ceiling and knocked her down in January 1992.
In June 1992, Clinton uses a sewing machine designed to eliminate back and wrist strain. She had just given a speech at a convention of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton jokes with her husband's running mate, Al Gore, and Gore's wife, Tipper, aboard a campaign bus.
Clinton accompanies her husband as he takes the oath of office in January 1993.
The Clintons share a laugh on Capitol Hill in 1993.
Clinton unveils the renovated Blue Room of the White House in 1995.
Clinton waves to the media in January 1996 as she arrives for an appearance before a grand jury in Washington. The first lady was subpoenaed to testify as a witness in the investigation of the Whitewater land deal in Arkansas. The Clintons' business investment was investigated, but ultimately they were cleared of any wrongdoing.
The Clintons hug as Bill is sworn in for a second term as President.
The first lady holds up a Grammy Award, which she won for her audiobook "It Takes a Village" in 1997.
The Clintons dance on a beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands in January 1998. Later that month, Bill Clinton was accused of having a sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Clinton looks on as her husband discusses the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on January 26, 1998. Clinton declared, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." In August of that year, Clinton testified before a grand jury and admitted to having "inappropriate intimate contact" with Lewinsky, but he said it did not constitute sexual relations because they had not had intercourse. He was impeached in December on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
The first family walks with their dog, Buddy, as they leave the White House for a vacation in August 1998.
President Clinton makes a statement at the White House in December 1998, thanking members of Congress who voted against his impeachment. The Senate trial ended with an acquittal in February 1999.
Clinton announces in February 2000 that she will seek the U.S. Senate seat in New York. She was elected later that year.
Clinton makes her first appearance on the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Sen. Clinton comforts Maren Sarkarat, a woman who lost her husband in the September 11 terrorist attacks, during a ground-zero memorial in October 2001.
Clinton holds up her book "Living History" before a signing in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in 2003.
Clinton and another presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, applaud at the start of a Democratic debate in 2007.
Obama and Clinton talk on the plane on their way to a rally in Unity, New Hampshire, in June 2008. She had recently ended her presidential campaign and endorsed Obama.
Obama is flanked by Clinton and Vice President-elect Joe Biden at a news conference in Chicago in December 2008. He had designated Clinton to be his secretary of state.
Clinton, as secretary of state, greets Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a meeting just outside Moscow in March 2010.
The Clintons pose on the day of Chelsea's wedding to Marc Mezvinsky in July 2010.
In this photo provided by the White House, Obama, Clinton, Biden and other members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
Clinton checks her Blackberry inside a military plane after leaving Malta in October 2011. In 2015, The New York Times reported that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account during her time as secretary of state. The account, fed through its own server, raises security and preservation concerns. Clinton later said she used a private domain out of "convenience," but admits in retrospect "it would have been better" to use multiple emails.
Clinton arrives for a group photo before a forum with the Gulf Cooperation Council in March 2012. The forum was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Obama and Clinton bow during the transfer-of-remains ceremony marking the return of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who were killed in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.
Clinton ducks after a woman threw a shoe at her while she was delivering remarks at a recycling trade conference in Las Vegas in 2014.
Clinton, now running for President again, performs with Jimmy Fallon during a "Tonight Show" skit in September 2015.
Clinton testifies about the Benghazi attack during a House committee meeting in October 2015. "I would imagine I have thought more about what happened than all of you put together," she said during the 11-hour hearing. "I have lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done." Months earlier, Clinton had acknowledged a "systemic breakdown" as cited by an Accountability Review Board, and she said that her department was taking additional steps to increase security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders shares a lighthearted moment with Clinton during a Democratic presidential debate in October 2015. It came after Sanders gave his take on the Clinton email scandal. "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about the damn emails," Sanders said. "Enough of the emails. Let's talk about the real issues facing the United States of America."
Clinton is reflected in a teleprompter during a campaign rally in Alexandria, Virginia, in October 2015.
Clinton walks on her stage with her family after winning the New York primary in April.
After Clinton became the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, this photo was posted to her official Twitter account. "To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want -- even president," Clinton said. "Tonight is for you."
Obama hugs Clinton after he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The president said Clinton was ready to be commander in chief. "For four years, I had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her judgment and her discipline," he said, referring to her stint as his secretary of state.
Clinton arrives at a 9/11 commemoration ceremony in New York on September 11. Clinton, who was diagnosed with pneumonia two days before, left early after feeling ill. A video appeared to show her stumble
as Secret Service agents helped her into a van.
Clinton addresses a campaign rally in Cleveland on November 6, two days before Election Day. She went on to lose Ohio -- and the election -- to her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.
After conceding the presidency to Trump in a phone call earlier, Clinton addresses supporters and campaign workers
in New York on Wednesday, November 9. Her defeat marked a stunning end to a campaign that appeared poised to make her the first woman elected US president.
The news united Republicans who have spent the past several weeks grappling with Trump's controversies. Speaker Paul Ryan jumped on Comey's announcement to blast Clinton.
Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted after the news broke, "A great day in our campaign just got even better."
Ryan said Clinton betrayed Americans' trust for handling "the nation's most important secrets."
"This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators," Ryan said in a statement. "I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved."
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, Jim Sciutto, Stephen Collinson, Phil Mattingly, Jeremy Diamond, Theodore Schleifer and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.