Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.

He covers a wide range of topics including issues related to federal social safety net programs and news around the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

His reporting takes him across the country covering natural disasters, like hurricanes and flooding, as well as tracking trends in regional politics and in state governments, particularly on issues of race.

Following the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Booker's reporting broadened to include a focus on young activists pushing for changes to federal and state gun laws, including the March For Our Lives rally and national school walkouts.

Prior to joining NPR's national desk, Booker spent five years as a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He spent most to the 2016 presidential campaign cycle covering the contest for the GOP nomination and was the lead producer from the Trump campaign headquarters on election night. Booker served in a similar capacity from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he produced pieces and filed dispatches from the Republican and Democratic National conventions, as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from politics to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker started his career as a show producer working on nearly all of NPR's magazine programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and former news and talk show Tell Me More, where he produced the program's signature Barbershop segment.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not on the road, Booker enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and working on his golf game.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Michael McKinley, a seasoned diplomat — and up until last week, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — has testified before House committees that are leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

His soaring rhetoric has drawn comparisons to former President Barack Obama. He prides himself as the only Democratic presidential hopeful to live in an inner-city neighborhood. Reforming a criminal justice system plagued by racial disparities is central to his campaign.

Yet New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of two top-tier African American candidates in a crowded Democratic field, continues to struggle making inroads with black voters — something he addressed on Saturday in a wide-ranging interview with two voters that was moderated by NPR's Ari Shapiro.

New Jersey Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker says he is unequivocal in his support on whether the impeachment inquiry of President Trump should proceed, regardless of polls showing that a majority of Americans want the president's fate decided by next year's election.

Updated at 12:22 a.m. ET on Sunday

Three people have died after a quick-moving wildfire churned through the foothills of Southern California. As firefighters worked to tamp down largely contained blazes, evacuation orders were lifted in all of Los Angeles County and in parts of Riverside County, where a second fire raged.

The Los Angeles blaze, which officials have named the Saddleridge Fire, ignited late Thursday, destroying more than 30 structures. It began in the northernmost Los Angeles County neighborhood of Sylmar, in the San Fernando Valley.

After several days of controversy, the NBA will complete its exhibition series in China with Saturday's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. But the league says basketball players, including two of the game's biggest stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, will not address the media in news conferences after.

Michael Drejka, a white Florida man, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for his role in last year's fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a dispute over a handicapped-accessible parking spot.

A jury convicted Drejka of manslaughter in August in the death of Markeis McGlockton.

Updated at 11:14 p.m. ET

Power is gradually being restored to tens of thousands of Californians after a second day of outages designed to mitigate the risks of wind-fueled wildfires.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, restored power Thursday evening to about 228,000 customers, or about 30% of the estimated 738,000 customers who lost power. That still leaves about 510,000 customers without electricity.

Updated 6:34 p.m. ET

Pacific Gas & Electric began cutting off power to nearly 800,000 customers across large swaths of Northern and Central California on Wednesday morning, in a planned outage that it says is necessary to avoid the risk of fire.

PG&E gave residents in 34 counties advance warnings about the power cut, which it says would "proactively" reduce the dangerous effects of a potential "widespread, severe wind event" forecast for Wednesday.

Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is affirming the league will not censor players or front-office personnel, saying "freedom of expression" is paramount for the league, which has been criticized for its response to an employee's tweet about pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Silver says the NBA is not apologizing for a now-deleted tweet from Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that thrust the NBA into tumult over its business dealings in China in recent days.

Legendary actress, singer and style icon Diahann Carroll died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles after a long bout with cancer. She was 84 years old.

Carroll's longtime manager, Ronni Lynn Hart, confirmed her death to NPR.

In her illustrious career, Carroll won a Tony Award and was nominated for an Oscar. But she is perhaps best known for making television history when she starred as the titular character on the NBC sitcom Julia, which debuted in 1968.

Four Paris police employees were killed when a man armed with a knife went on a stabbing rampage Thursday at police headquarters, across from Notre Dame Cathedral.

Authorities said at a news conference that three men who were police officers and a woman who was an administrative worker died in the attack around noon local time. The assailant was shot and killed. It was not clear how many people might have been wounded.

A Virginia doctor received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday for illegally prescribing more than half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and other opioids to patients for years.

Authorities say Dr. Joel Smithers operated a "pill mill" out of Martinsville, Va., located about 15 miles north of the Virginia-North Carolina border and about 175 miles southwest of Richmond.

Former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke said he firmly supports the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump, calling it the "right course to pursue."

He also charged that Senate Republicans are complicit in allowing the president to engage in "willful lawbreaking."

Dramatic video shot in Taiwan captures the moment an arch bridge collapsed on Tuesday, causing a section of the bridge and a passing oil tanker crashing down onto several fishing boats.

More than a dozen people were injured or missing after the Nanfangao Bridge in Su'ao township, in the island's northeast, collapsed around 9:30 a.m. local time, according to the English-language Taiwan News.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro says the need for impeachment proceedings is clear.

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked Castro if the impeachment process would be good for the nation, especially with the national elections taking place next year.

Forever 21 — the ubiquitous mall-based fashion retailer aimed at teens, tweens and young adults — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, joining a growing list of apparel outlets to fall victim to competitive online market pressures.

The California-based company may close up to 178 U.S. stores, according to court records.

Hong Kong is bracing for more rallies and unrest this weekend as two important anniversaries loom, sparking fears that anti-government protests might once again boil over into violence on the streets.

Saturday marks five years since the start of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement that unsuccessfully sought free and open elections in Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese control in 1997.

Former Rep. Darrell Issa, a once powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who retired last year, says he wants to return to Washington.

And he is seeking to unseat a fellow Republican to do so.

"I will be the next congressman from the 50th Congressional District," Issa proclaimed at a news conference Thursday in El Cajon, Calif.

The California Republican had previously represented the neighboring 49th District before he decided against seeking reelection in 2018.

Things have certainly changed since then.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has acknowledged for the first time that he is accountable for the killing of prominent critic and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The revelation is made in an upcoming PBS documentary set to air next week, a day before the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi's death.

The Supreme Court in Spain has waded into a decades-long controversy by ruling unanimously on Tuesday that the government can, against family wishes, exhume the remains of former dictator Gen. Francisco Franco from a towering monument outside of Madrid.

Critics say keeping the leader's remains at the massive mausoleum glorifies Franco's fascist regime. Detractors of the decision argue that moving his remains only opens old wounds that never fully healed after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939.

Joe Biden, the former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate, is accusing President Trump of "an overwhelming abuse of power."

Biden's comments on Saturday come amid reports that President Trump urged the leader of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate Biden's son during a phone conversation this summer.

According to multiple reports, what was allegedly said during that July 25 conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president is now at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that has roiled the White House.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Flood waters are slowly beginning to recede, but large areas of southeast Texas remain flooded Friday. Emergency crews continue to perform rescues from water-soaked neighborhoods. And officials work to get a broader sense of the damage left by Tropical Depression Imelda, a catastrophic weather event that swamped hundreds of cars and homes, and has claimed the lives of at least four people.

Sarah Thomas, an American ultramarathon swimmer, has just completed a swim that no other human on the planet has ever accomplished.

The 37-year-old from Colorado plunged into waters off the shore of Dover, England, in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Her goal: swim across the English Channel.

Then do it again.

And again.

And again.

Thomas completed the final leg of her swim at around 6:30 a.m. local time Tuesday in just over 54 hours— the first person to cross the channel four times without stopping.

Updated 4:41 p.m. ET

Husband-and-wife murder suspects who overpowered their guards as they were being extradited from New York to Arizona and managed to elude the law for weeks have finally run out of road.

At a news conference Thursday, David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal for Arizona, says the arrest of Blane and Susan Barksdale is "obviously a big relief off our shoulders."

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has rescued the fourth and final crew member from an overturned car carrier vessel in waters off the coast of Brunswick, Ga., after reporting earlier in the day that all but one had been pulled to safety.

In a tweet Monday evening, the Coast Guard's 7th District Southeast, located in Miami, tweeted that "All crew members are accounted for. Operations now shift fully to environmental protection, removing the vessel and resuming commerce."

Rescue crews are searching for four crew members of a cargo ship that overturned in the early hours of Sunday morning off the coast of Brunswick, Ga., approximately 80 miles south of Savannah.

There were 23 crew members and a pilot aboard the Golden Ray when the 656-foot carrier became disabled in St. Simons Sound, according to the Coast Guard.

Twenty people on the vessel were rescued.

Mike Pompeo, the nation's top diplomat, took to the Sunday news talk shows to defend the administration's cancelling of a secret summit between the leadership of the Taliban and the president of Afghanistan. The meetings had been set to take place at Camp David days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, said it was the president's idea to hold the talks at the presidential retreat in Maryland, adding it was a "perfectly appropriate place" to do so.

The Trump administration says a deal between California and four carmakers to improve fuel efficiency may be illegal. The Justice Department has also launched a probe to see whether it violates antitrust laws. Together, the moves raise the stakes in a months-long standoff over efforts to weaken a key Obama-era climate rule.

Britain's House of Lords endorsed a measure Friday that would block Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to leave the European Union next month without a deal in place, giving final approval to a bill the House of Commons passed earlier this week.

The House of Lords' passage was widely expected after the bill won approval in the House of Commons on Wednesday. The legislation now proceeds to royal assent — a formality that will result in its becoming law.

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