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.

Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has notified Congress that it plans to divert $3.8 billion from the Defense Department's budget to build the border wall.

This is in addition to more than $11 billion that's already been identified to construct more than 500 miles of new barriers along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. That includes money that Congress has appropriated and funding that was previously diverted from military construction and counternarcotic operations.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This report includes descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

Two Ohio State University football players were arrested on rape and kidnapping charges Wednesday after what local police describe as a violent sexual encounter with a woman last week. The men are scheduled to be arraigned on first-degree felony charges Thursday.

Police charged 21-year-olds Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint, both of whom played on the Buckeyes' Big Ten Championship team this past season.

In two separate speeches on Thursday, President Trump, buoyed by his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial a day earlier, continued to lash out at the lone Republican who voted to convict and remove him from office — Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

But the president's ire against the former GOP presidential nominee began just after midnight when he tweeted his displeasure with Romney, while needling him for coming up short during his White House bid in 2012.

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."

Weeks after a powerful earthquake and dozens of aftershocks rocked Puerto Rico, citizens whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the quakes will be granted access to some financial relief, officials announced on Thursday.

President Trump "declared that a major disaster exists" in the southern regions of Puerto Rico and "ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts," the White House said in a statement.

The Transportation Security Administration is reminding airport travelers that it's fine to stuff carry-on bags with clothes and toiletries. Just don't pack any heat.

TSA announced that its officers seized 4,432 guns at checkpoints last year — the most in the agency's 18-year history. It also says that 87% of those guns (some 3,855) were loaded.

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.

Smoke from massive wildfires in Australia hangs like a blanket over the city of Melbourne. The smog there is so thick that some of the world's top athletes have raised alarms about player safety at the Australian Open tennis tournament, slated to kick off next week.

The air quality in Melbourne on Wednesday was forecast to be "very poor to hazardous," according to the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria state.

Some in Puerto Rico are beginning to fear the ground will never stop shaking.

The island has been pummeled by hundreds of earthquakes in recent weeks, including Saturday's 5.9 magnitude temblor, where there were reports of landslides in the town of Peñuelas along the southern coast, rattling residents already on edge from last Tuesday's massive 6.4 magnitude quake.

Jet parts maker Spirit AeroSystems announced Friday it was laying off thousands of employees, the latest impact of the halt in production of Boeing's troubled 737 Max planes.

The Wichita-based company said the staff cuts will affect roughly 2,800 employees. It said it came to the decision because it is unclear when Boeing will resume making the once in-demand aircraft.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

Thousands of people in Puerto Rico still don't have permanent shelter three days after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake walloped the Caribbean island, killing one man and injuring nine people. Millions still don't have electricity.

The quake has displaced an estimated 2,000 people, according to the humanitarian organization Direct Relief.

Updated at 6:33 p.m. ET

National security adviser Robert O'Brien is defending a closed-door briefing held for lawmakers on Wednesday in which Trump administration officials laid out the justification for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran's top military commander.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his "deepest condolences" to those mourning the 176 people — including 63 Canadians — who died in a plane crash Wednesday morning in Iran.

The FBI says it is offering help to authorities in Mexico investigating a shooting attack on an American family that killed a 13-year-old child and wounded others, including a 10-year-old relative, over the weekend.

The attack, according to The Associated Press, took place on a seldom-used road in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, south of Texas on Saturday.

The AP reports that Tamaulipas Attorney General's office said the child was a U.S. citizen and that the parents were permanent U.S. residents.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

President Trump and his top deputies offered a full-throated defense on Tuesday of the American strike against Iran's top foreign legion commander, stressing what they called the urgent danger of an attack he had been plotting.

The killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani last week has ratcheted up tensions between Tehran and Washington, prompting vows of retaliatory strikes.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Dennis Muilenburg, the embattled CEO of Boeing, is resigning from his post, the aerospace giant announced Monday. The company says its board of directors has named David L. Calhoun, the current chairman, as successor.

At least two people began shooting at a house party in Chicago in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to police, who say that 13 people were shot and being treated at area hospitals.

The Associated Press reports a 37-year-old man has been charged in connection with the shooting.

No one was killed, but several victims were in critical condition, according to police.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point announced Friday it has wrapped up an investigation into whether cadets flashed a "white power" hand signal during ESPN's pregame broadcast of the Army-Navy football game earlier this month.

Its conclusion: "The cadets were playing a common game, popular among teenagers today, known as the 'circle game' and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army values," according to a statement from the academy where U.S. Army officers are trained.

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 6 p.m. ET

Southwest Airlines — which operates more Boeing 737 Max planes than any other domestic carrier — will suspend the troubled jetliner type from its flight rotation for a longer period than it originally planned.

The low-cost airline announced Tuesday it is "proactively" nixing the Max from its schedule until April 13. Southwest had earlier projected it would reintroduce the jetliners by early March.

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