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.

U.S. authorities have seized the domain name of a website that allegedly sold access to billions of usernames, email addresses, passwords and other sensitive information stolen in data breaches.

Now, visitors to the not-so-subtle website – weleakinfo.com — are greeted with a homepage that reads, "This Domain Has Been Seized."

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island.

The tranche of money, more than $8 billion, is allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund. It was supposed to be released months ago to help the island rebuild in the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Former Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin drew widespread condemnation last week when reports highlighted that he had pardoned more than 400 convicted criminals in his final days in office. Bevin justified his actions by telling The Washington Post, "I'm a believer in second chances."

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin departed the governor's mansion three days ago, but the reverberations of some of his final actions are still being felt across the state.

Bevin, a Republican who narrowly lost a bid for a second term last month, issued pardons to hundreds of people, including convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders.

Updated at 5:39 p.m. ET

At least five people are dead and eight others remain unaccounted for after an eruption on a volcanic island off the coast of New Zealand on Monday, local officials have confirmed.

Former President Jimmy Carter was admitted to a Georgia hospital over the weekend to receive treatment for a urinary tract infection, according to the Carter Center, which says the 39th president "looks forward to returning home soon."

Spokesperson Deanna Congileo said in a statement that Carter "was admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Ga., this past weekend for treatment for a urinary tract infection."

A former CIA officer was sentenced to nearly two decades in a federal prison Friday for conspiracy to spy for China.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Hawaii, was sentenced to 19 years for conspiracy to deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government.

Record-breaking cold and snowfall is numbing many parts of the U.S. from the Great Plains to the East Coast and north through New England. By Wednesday the cold snap is expected to spread farther south to the upper Texas coast in what is being described as an "arctic outbreak" by the National Weather Service.

The dead-of-winter temperatures come with roughly five weeks of fall remaining on the calendar.

Rep. Elijah Cummings' widow is resigning her post as chair of Maryland's Democratic Party to run for her late husband's congressional seat.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings formally announced her candidacy Tuesday morning in Baltimore.

Deadspin, the brash and rebellious sports website, has had its entire writing and editing personnel resign just days after new management issued a mandate to staff to "stick to sports."

On Friday, the website's most well-known writer, Dave McKenna, was said to be stepping down, according to a post by former Deadspin Senior Editor Diana Moskovitz.

Nestlé, the maker of cereals, coffee, ice cream and delicious treats, announced some not-to-sweet news: The company is recalling some of its signature ready-to-bake Toll House Cookie Dough products "due to the potential presence of food-grade rubber pieces," according to a company press release.

Nestlé USA says the recall is voluntary and only impacts products distributed throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Within a span of a few hours, former vice president and current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden both condemned President Trump's use of the word "lynching" to describe the impeachment inquiry — and apologized for doing virtually the same thing more than 20 years ago.

Tech entrepreneur, author and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says the impeachment inquiry being conducted by House Democrats "is the right way to go."

But he also cautions that those who support impeachment should be realistic about the chances of a GOP-controlled Senate voting to remove President Trump from office.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET Monday

Talks between General Motors and union officials representing tens of thousands of striking autoworkers restarted Monday in hopes of driving both sides to an agreement on issues including workers' wages, health care and profit-sharing.

After several hours, union officials representing nearly 50,000 workers acknowledge negotiations remain in neutral.

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.

Updated at 9:18 a.m. ET Wednesday

Hurricane Dorian is crawling along as a Category 2 storm after spending more than a day thrashing Grand Bahama Island, where at least seven people are reported dead.

The core of the storm will "move dangerously close" to the coasts of Florida and Georgia throughout the night and into Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Updated at 2:15 a.m. ET Tuesday

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says at least five people have died in the Abaco Islands, where Hurricane Dorian made landfall Sunday as "the strongest hurricane in modern records" to hit the archipelago.

Minnis described the hurricane as a "historic tragedy" that's brought "unprecedented and expensive" devastation to Abaco.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

With their hopes fading that lawmakers in Washington will pass new gun safety measures, young activists from March for Our Lives have their own plans on how to stem gun violence.

Volunteer sanitation crews from Florida and New York descended on Baltimore on Thursday to help remove trash and other debris from a city that President Trump has referred to as an "infested mess" and a place that "no human being would want to live."

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson made a visit to Baltimore on Wednesday and renewed his defense of President Trump's disparaging comments about the city, and reiterated his own critique of the city where he lived for more than three decades.

"There are good things in Baltimore. There are bad things in Baltimore," Carson told reporters near a recently renovated affordable housing development. "But there are problems and we can't sweep them under the rug."

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