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.

The traditional prelude to the Olympics, the torch relay, will look – and sound – a bit different this year, as spectators are asked to avoid crowds and dampen their cheers when the torch passes by them.

Members of the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced a series of pandemic measures on Thursday, including leaving the option open for suspending portions of the relay should health officials deem it necessary.

Seeking to correct an injustice from more than a century ago, the Los Angeles Police Commission voted to posthumously reinstate and honor one of LAPD's first Black police officers.

Robert Stewart spent 11 years on the force before he was unjustly fired, the commission said.

The five-member police commission voted unanimously to reinstate Stewart, Richard Tefank, the executive director of the commission, told NPR.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man who was chased and gunned down by a group of white men in Glynn County, Ga., while jogging, has filed a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against several people involved in the killing or the subsequent investigation.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against MyPillow and its CEO Mike Lindell on Monday, saying he spread false information that its voting machines rigged the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Dominion filed a suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking damages in excess of $1.3 billion.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Nearly 3 million homes and businesses in Texas remain without power, some for a third consecutive day, as severe winter weather continues to pummel the state, forcing some localities to issue boil-water notices and urge residents to reduce their electricity usage.

Amy Cooper, a white dog owner who was at the center of a controversial encounter with a Black man bird-watching in New York's Central Park last year, had her misdemeanor charge stemming from that incident dropped on Tuesday.

The woman had been facing a charge of falsely reporting an incident to police after she told them Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, threatened her and her dog. He did not.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former two-time Nigerian finance minister, was appointed Monday to the be the next director-general of the World Trade Organization. She is the first African and the first woman to lead the body, which governs trade rules between nations.

"This is a very significant moment for the WTO," David Walker, the WTO's General Council chair, said in a statement.

Former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial ended Saturday with his acquittal by senators, who were acting as jurors in the proceeding.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to convict Trump, but support from 67 senators — or two-thirds of the chamber — would have been required for a conviction.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

Former President Donald Trump's legal team concluded its defense on Friday, arguing that the impeachment proceedings were "an act of political vengeance" as well as "a politically motivated witch hunt."

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

Former President Donald Trump's legal team opened its impeachment defense Friday by characterizing the proceedings as an "unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance."

Attorney Michael van der Veen added it was an abuse of the Constitution that only serves to further divide the nation.

Updated at 4:41 p.m. ET

Impeachment managers Thursday argued that former President Donald Trump not only incited his supporters to lay siege to the Capitol complex last month but also showed no contrition for the destruction and the bloodshed his supporters caused at his direction.

"We saw both during the attack as well as in the days after the attack that this was a president who showed no remorse and took no accountability," Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., told senators.

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., opened the second day of impeachment proceedings by rejecting the defense's argument that former President Donald Trump's remarks at a rally prior to the Capitol attack are protected speech under the First Amendment.

Raskin said that Trump was not merely a private citizen walking down the street expressing his support for the overthrow of the federal government. The former constitutional law professor said if Trump were, his speech would be protected.

Former President Donald Trump's legal defense team claims the House of Representatives moved to impeach him because the Democrats are afraid of facing Trump in 2024.

"Let's understand why we are really here," attorney Bruce Cantor said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "We are really here because the majority in the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future."

As former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial unfolds, a group of nine House Democrats will have the task of prosecuting the case before the Senate whose members will serve as jurors.

When former President Donald Trump's historic second Senate impeachment trial gets underway Tuesday, he'll be relying on a legal trio that was hastily thrust together a little more than a week ago.

A confirmed COVID-19 case at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, Australia, is forcing organizers of a major tennis tournament to mandate that more than 500 players and their staffs "be tested and isolate until they receive a negative test result" just days before play is set to begin.

Athletes prepping for the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament and scheduled for Feb. 8 – 21, will not be permitted to leave their rooms until they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 12:45 p.m. ET

Brian Sicknick, the slain U.S. Capitol Police officer who was given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, received a final tribute from lawmakers Wednesday. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden joined Sicknick's family members and colleagues from the Capitol Police in a period of visitation on Tuesday night.

Sicknick, 42, died from injuries he sustained fending off members of the mob that breached the Capitol complex on Jan. 6.

Updated at 10:29 p.m. ET

Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who was fatally injured during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol complex, has been given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the building's Rotunda.

President Biden and Jill Biden briefly joined family members and colleagues from the Capitol Police in a period of visitation on Tuesday night.

New York state lawmakers have introduced legislation that bans law enforcement officers from using chemical irritants on minors.

It was a quick response to Rochester Police pepper-spraying a handcuffed 9-year-old girl as officers were responding to a call of a family disturbance last week. Video of the girl's encounter with police was released by city officials, sparking protests in the city Monday evening.

Updated at 5:23 p.m. ET

Rochester, N.Y., police officers involved in restraining and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl last Friday were suspended Monday by order of Mayor Lovely Warren "at a minimum" until the conclusion of an internal police investigation.

"Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action," Warren said in a statement.

The suspensions came after city officials released police body-camera footage showing the encounter between officers and the girl.

Europe's aviation authority has given an all-clear for Boeing's beleaguered 737 Max plane, with modifications, to return to service. This effectively lifts the nearly two-year ban on the aircraft in the European Union following a pair of plane crashes that killed 346 people.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said a modified version of the 737 Max will be allowed fly once again, after several upgrades to its software, electrical system, operational manuals and training of flight crews.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky called it "a significant milestone."

Emergency crews continue to remove debris and conduct additional search and rescue efforts after a tornado ripped through a suburban area north of Birmingham, Ala., leaving at least one dead and dozens more injured.

Survey crews assessing the storm damage found that preliminary estimates indicate the tornado was at least a high-end EF-2 tornado, with winds up to 135 miles per hour, the National Weather Service in Birmingham said Tuesday afternoon.

Twitter has suspended Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, from the social media platform. He had been using his Twitter account to spread disinformation about the 2020 election, including false claims of voter fraud and election rigging.

Lindell's account was "permanently suspended due to repeated violations of our Civil Integrity Policy," a Twitter spokesperson told NPR. It was not immediately clear which posts from Lindell led to his removal from the social media platform.

Protests erupted late Sunday in Tacoma, Wash., in response to an incident a day earlier in which a police officer used his patrol vehicle to plow through a crowd, hitting several people and injuring at least two.

The incident involving the police officer was captured on cellphone video and posted on social media. Law enforcement officials said the officer, who was not named, is on paid administrative leave during an investigation.

Updated 11:28 a.m. ET

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump and daughter of two-term Arkansas Gov.-turned-political commentator Mike Huckabee, officially launched her own gubernatorial bid Monday.

Updated 2:45 p.m. ET

Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, has been confirmed by the Senate, making him the first Black defense secretary in U.S. history.

The Senate approved President Biden's nomination for Pentagon chief in a near-unanimous 93-2 vote Friday.

"It's an honor and a privilege to serve as our country's 28th Secretary of Defense, and I'm especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position," Austin tweeted Friday.

"Let's get to work," he added.

The House of Representatives and Senate approved a waiver Thursday for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as President Biden's defense secretary. Both votes were overwhelming and bipartisan.

Normally the House has no role in confirming Cabinet secretaries. But Austin retired from the military four years ago, short of the seven years required by law to take the civilian job without a waiver from both houses of Congress.

A Senate vote on Austin's confirmation is expected as soon as Friday.

Updated 4:50 p.m. ET

As the United States inaugurated Joe Biden as the 46th president, world leaders, citizens and former officials offered congratulations and expressed hope that the new administration will lead to better relations and reverse some of the policies of his predecessor.

"The United States is back. And Europe stands ready," Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, proclaimed in a tweet hours before the swearing-in Wednesday.

Updated 7:10 p.m. ET

Gen. Lloyd Austin, President-elect Joe Biden's pick to head the Pentagon, went before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday in a bid to make history by being confirmed as the nation's first Black secretary of defense.

During his opening statement, Austin, 67, addressed the biggest issue hovering over his nomination.

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