Ben Sasse doubts Trump will face a real GOP challenge in 2020

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse, who has at times criticized the style and substance of President Donald Trump, said Wednesday it was unlikely the president would face a strong primary challenger in 2020.

The Republican senator from Nebraska said that was because Trump, “has captured the majority of the Republican Party over the course of the last 2 { years. The Republican Party electorate is pretty comfortable with the ‘anti’ positions that President Trump takes on a lot of issues.”

Speaking at a National Press Club luncheon, Sasse also said it was unlikely he could see himself making a run for the White House.

“I honestly spent 16 months cleaning up then-2-year-old baby vomit off the floor of a campaign bus, and the thought of doing that in 50 states instead of just 93 counties sounds absolutely terrible,” Sasse said. “So I think noxious weed control board of Dodge County, Nebraska, is the far more probable scenario for me.”

He also said he was intentionally not thinking about whether to run for the Senate again in two years.

— CQ-Roll Call

No danger from suspicious envelope at California Democrats’ headquarters, authorities say

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Sacramento was briefly evacuated Wednesday after receiving a manila envelope addressed to Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, police and party officials said.

Police later determined the package did not contain any dangerous materials, Sacramento police spokesman Marcus Basquez said.

The handwritten address on the envelope was made out to Perez, and “given the situation that happened last week (when bombs were sent to prominent Democrats around the nation), we’re just not taking any chances,” state Democratic Party spokesman John Vigna said.

“Just the fact that it was a manila envelope and handwritten (made it suspicious),” Vigna said. “Sad to say, but we have to treat every potential threat as an actual threat.”

The envelope was delivered to the office around 10:45 a.m. with the rest of the day’s mail. Office staff soon placed the envelope outside and called police. Vigna said he got only a quick glance at it, but said it had a return address and “it wasn’t bulky, it didn’t look like the packages from last week.”

A package containing a bomb addressed to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., was discovered at a Sacramento post office last week, and federal authorities said it was part of a nationwide series of bombs sent to prominent Democratic politicians, CNN and others.

— The Sacramento Bee

‘Hipster terrorist’ pleads guilty to traveling to Syria to join precursor to Islamic State

CHICAGO — He’s been dubbed the “hipster terrorist” for the glamorous social media shots of him posing in snazzy shirts and designer sunglasses, an iced latte in hand and jacket slung casually over a shoulder.

But Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab cut a much different profile Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Chicago, where he wore an orange jail jumpsuit and was shackled at the ankles as he pleaded guilty to charges of aiding a terrorist organization and lying to immigration officials.

Al-Jayab, 25, a Palestinian native with ties to Wisconsin, admitted in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he flew from O’Hare International Airport to Turkey in November 2013 and then entered Syria. Once there, he joined Ansar Al-Islam, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that was a precursor to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to his plea agreement.

After al-Jayab returned to the U.S. in 2014 and settled in California, he told immigration officials that he’d been overseas visiting relatives, according to the court filing.

“I wanted to do the right thing … to defend the Syrian people,” al-Jayab told U.S. District Judge Sarah Ellis Wednesday in broken English. He acknowledged, however, that he knew the group he was joining was engaged in terrorist activities and that he tried to hide his involvement when he returned.

His plea agreement calls for a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

According to the charges, al-Jayab was born in Palestine and spent much of his childhood in Iraq before coming to the U.S. as a refugee in October 2012. While living in Arizona and Wisconsin, al-Jayab communicated on social media about his intention to go to Syria to fight for terrorist organizations, according a criminal complaint filed in Sacramento, Calif.

After returning to the U.S., al-Jayab moved to Sacramento and registered for computer science classes at a community college. He told Ellis on Wednesday he took some college courses but never earned a degree.

He also worked security at a local hotel, he said.

— Chicago Tribune

Two South Florida rappers die in hail of bullets

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Aspiring rappers Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. were last seen alive in Fort Lauderdale at 3:20 a.m. on Friday. Seventy-five minutes later they were dead, and detectives don’t know what led up to the killings.

After at least a dozen gunshots shook the South Florida night, Williams, 21, known as “Sak,” and Thomas, 19, called “Juvy,” died when a friend dropped them off at Memorial Hospital Miramar, police said.

“We still do not know where the shootings took place,” Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues said Tuesday.

The men had recently moved from the Vero Beach area to Miramar, she said.

The night of their deaths, the hospital’s emergency bay became a crime scene, enveloped in yellow tape as detectives gathered evidence from a gray Jeep.

Police also closed a portion of the southbound Interstate 75 exit ramp to Miramar Parkway between Dykes Road and Southwest 172nd Avenue to search for clues.

Rues said police are withholding the name of the driver who dropped the two men at the hospital.

— Sun Sentinel