January 19, 2016
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At an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Tuesday, Donald Trump called for the Environmental Protection Agency to follow the ethanol volumes set by Congress in 2007 and to increase the volume of ethanol mixed into the nation's gasoline supply. "The EPA should ensure that biofuel... blend levels match the statutory level set by Congress under the [renewable fuel standard]," Trump said in a speech just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The mandate has long been popular among Iowans, as 47 percent of the state's corn goes to ethanol production.

Trump's support came just hours after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad attacked Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz for his opposition to ethanol mandates, which Cruz sees as an "unwanted subsidy to corn growers," The New York Times reports. "I'm convinced he may well lose this because of his stand on ethanol," Branstad said in an interview about Cruz's chances in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, adding that Cruz is "heavily financed by Big Oil."

Trump, however, says he's "100 percent" behind the ethanol industry. "Energy independence is a requirement if America is to become great again," Trump said, seemingly reading from notes in a departure from his usual animated manner of speaking. "My theme is 'Make America Great Again.' It's an important part of it." Becca Stanek

1:58 p.m. ET

Russia has lost its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, having been ousted by a vote Friday among the 193 member countries of the United Nations. Russia had been a member of the U.N. body since its creation in 2006.

Membership to the 47-member council is appropriated geographically, and Russia was competing with Hungary and Croatia for two available seats allotted to Eastern Europe. In the elections Friday, Russia received only 112 votes, while Hungary and Croatia received 144 votes and 114, respectively. Russia has been widely criticized for human rights violations, particularly with its treatment of LGBT individuals and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Also Friday, Saudi Arabia — another nation with a spotty human rights record, as New York Times United Nations reporter Somini Sengupta notes — won one of the seats available for Asia. Egypt, Iraq, China, and the United States were also elected to the council. Kimberly Alters

1:56 p.m. ET

Donald Trump praised the FBI's decision to reopen it's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, calling it "brave" and a chance for the bureau to "right the horrible mistake that they have made."

"We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office," Trump declared to his audience in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Trump joked that, "With that being said, the rest of my speech is going to be so boring. Should I even make the rest of my speech?" But he continued to return to the topic, saying, "I think [the FBI is] going to right the ship, folks, I think they're going to right the ship" and "this is bigger than Watergate."

Trump claimed he had only been told the news 10 minutes before taking the stage; Clinton has been in the air "with no wi-fi for the last two hours," Politico reports.

Jeva Lange

1:41 p.m. ET

Stocks screeched downward on Friday after the FBI announced it would be investigating new emails linked to Hillary Clinton's use of a private server while serving as secretary of state. "Stocks turned negative after the report of the new probe. Many analysts have said that markets were pricing in a Clinton victory in November," NBC News reported.

The Mexican peso also dropped by 0.6 percent, with analysts previously having used its strength to argue for a likely Clinton win, Business Insider reports. Jeva Lange

1:10 p.m. ET

The FBI is reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server that she used while serving as secretary of state, NBC News has learned. FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter to Congress that "in connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation … 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."

Analysts at NBC pointed out that there would have to be "pretty dramatic information in these emails to change the previous conclusion."

"Could be a big deal. Or nothing," Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief David Corn observed.

In July, the FBI recommended no criminal charges for Clinton, but Comey did call her handling of classified information in emails "extremely careless" during his congressional testimony. Jeva Lange

12:55 p.m. ET

Dogs may be man's best friend, but let's be honest — a dog's best friend is her chew toy. One couple decided to surprise their pooch Jolene with a real-life version of her favorite squishy, Gumby. The result is completely aww inducing.

Watch the completely adorable surprise unfold below. Jeva Lange

12:44 p.m. ET

The hack and leak of campaign chairman John Podesta's emails has resulted in a major headache for the team behind Hillary Clinton. But as it turns out in newly released WikiLeaks emails, Clinton's own IT help desk might be accidentally responsible for the emails getting out.

Last week, Motherboard reported that the hack resulted from Podesta falling for a phishing attempt that was disguised as Google alerting him that his account had been compromised. "The phishing email that Podesta received on March 19 contained a URL, created with the popular Bitly shortening service, pointing to a longer URL that, to an untrained eye, looked like a Google link," Motherboard wrote. "Inside that long URL, there's a 30-character string that looks like gibberish but is actually the encoded Gmail address of John Podesta. ... That's the link that opened Podesta's account to the hackers."

But when Clinton's IT team was alerted to the fake email, they actually confirmed it was "legitimate."

"This is a legitimate email," Charles Delavan, part of Clinton's IT team, seemingly confirmed, as can be seen on the WikiLeaks page here. "John needs to change his password immediately, and ensure that two-factor authentication is turned on his account."

Of course, this is not the first time concerns about Clinton's email security have come up. Many of the candidate's critics have expressed concern over possible vulnerabilities in the private email server she used while serving as secretary of state. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET

Marco Rubio really wants to hold onto his Senate seat, he swears — but it seems like Florida voters may not be so sure.

After his failed presidential bid, the Florida Republican swore up and down he'd be a "private citizen" come January 2017, right up until he reversed course and announced he'd run for re-election to the Senate. Rubio's flip-flop was largely interpreted in part as an effort to help Republicans hold onto their Senate majority, with Rubio being a strong candidate against Democratic opponent Rep. Patrick Murphy. But a new Public Policy Polling survey shows Rubio locked in a dead heat with Murphy:

Public Policy Polling surveyed 742 likely Florida voters for this poll from Oct. 25-26, and the results have a 3.6-point margin of error. But while the poll shows the two men in a dead heat, its results also hint at how either candidate can get a leg up in the race: PPP noted that undecided voters are "looking at gun violence prevention as a major factor in their upcoming vote," with 72 percent of these undecided respondents supporting background checks for all gun sales.

Rubio has said he was moved to jump back into the Senate race in part by the deadly June attack on an Orlando nightclub, where a lone gunman killed 49 people — though last December he voted against a measure that would have expanded background checks.

Rubio has also been attempting to distance himself from Donald Trump, who trails Hillary Clinton in the same PPP poll by 4 points in the Sunshine State. But Rubio has affirmed that he'll be voting for Trump, so whether Rubio's delicate dance around the Republican nominee will help or hurt him remains to be seen. The RealClearPolitics average of polls of the Rubio-Murphy race shows the incumbent hanging on to a 3.6-point lead — but it also shows Murphy has been steadily gaining support in recent weeks. The two held their second and final debate Wednesday at Broward College near Fort Lauderdale, which you can read more about at the Miami Herald. Kimberly Alters

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