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.

As the federal government, public health experts and scientists push toward a coronavirus vaccine, a new survey suggests only about half of Americans say they will get one when it becomes available.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds 49% of Americans overall say they plan to get a vaccination, while 31% of respondents say they are unsure if they will get vaccinated. The survey found 20% of respondents flat out said they will not.

Updated at 7:58 p.m. ET

A black man says he asked a white woman in Central Park to put her dog on a leash.

Then, video shows, she called the police and told emergency operators that the man was threatening her and her dog. The woman, who has been identified as Amy Cooper, has apologized. But by Tuesday afternoon, she was fired from her job at an investment management firm, the employer said.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET

The director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has downplayed claims made by the third man charged in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case that he was nothing more than a witness.

"I can tell you that if we believed he was a witness we wouldn't have arrested him," GBI Director Vic Reynolds said in a Friday news briefing.

President Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, was released from a federal prison and into home confinement Thursday.

His release comes amid concerns he could be exposed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer, have agreed to plead guilty in connection to the college admissions bribery scandal that federal investigators dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of Massachusetts made the announcement Thursday, saying Loughlin will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

Thousands of residents in central Michigan have been forced to evacuate their homes after rapidly rising waters from the Tittabawassee River following two dam failures threatened to flood parts of Midland County under as much as 9 feet of water.

The ongoing flooding is projected to be "historic," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

The NFL announced an expansion of its rules guiding how clubs consider minority candidates for top coaching positions and front office jobs Tuesday, describing the changes as "wide-sweeping workplace reforms."

This comes the same day that the NFL is allowing teams to reopen their practice facilities, so long as certain health regulations are met and they're allowed to do so in their areas. League facilities have been shuttered for nearly two months out of concerns over the coronavirus.

A home health aide in New Jersey accused of failing to self-isolate after undergoing a coronavirus screening is facing criminal charges after five people in a household where she worked tested positive for the coronavirus.

An 80-year-old female patient ultimately died from COVID-19 complications, state officials said.

Attorneys for one of the shooting suspects in the Ahmaud Arbery case said they believe they have uncovered enough information to convince a judge to free their client before the start of his murder trial.

"We do. We do," Franklin Hogue, one of the lawyers for Gregory McMichael said Friday when asked if he thought they had enough evidence to get him out of jail.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the stay-at-home order enacted to help halt the spread of the coronavirus will remain in place until May 28, with the exception of a handful of areas around the state that have met benchmarks for reopening.

In an executive order issued late Thursday, Cuomo said five regions in the state — Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and the North Country — could move into phase one of reopening.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the government of the idyllic, sun-kissed destination Seychelles announced a ban on cruise ships in Port Victoria until 2022.

Didier Dogley, the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, said the ban is effective immediately and will last until the end of next year, according to the Seychelles Nation, the national newspaper.

Citing the ongoing economic impacts caused by the coronavirus, Delta Air Lines said Thursday that it is removing the Boeing 777 and other older, higher-maintenance jets from its fleet in order to slash costs.

The move to retire the 18 wide-bodied 777 planes, considered a workhorse for the airline in its "ultra-long-haul markets," will take place at the end of the year. It is also a signal Delta does not anticipate strong demand for international travel in the near future.

Updated 12:32 p.m. ET

Paul Manafort was released from federal prison to home confinement early Wednesday morning due to concerns about coronavirus exposure, his attorney Todd Blanche tells NPR.

Manafort, who was once Donald Trump's presidential campaign chairman, is 71 years old and is serving a 7-year prison sentence.

Updated 9:25 p.m. ET

A day after naming a new lead prosecutor in the murder case of Ahmaud Arbery, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said he has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the actions of two district attorneys and how they handled the case.

The investigation into the killing of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was shot and killed while jogging in a Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood, had stalled in the 10 weeks following his death on Feb. 23.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Monday tapped a new lead prosecutor in the murder case of Ahmaud Arbery — the fourth since the young black man was killed in February while jogging in Glynn County, Ga.

Joyette Holmes, district attorney of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit and the first black woman to serve in that position, is taking over the case following a video of the shooting that went viral after it was posted online last week. The footage ignited national outcry and a cascade of questions over why no arrests were made in the 10 weeks since Arbery's Feb. 23 killing.

Updated at 4:49 p.m. ET

On what would have been Ahmaud Arbery's 26th birthday, Georgia state authorities said Friday that more arrests are possible in the shooting death of the black jogger who was killed while unarmed in February in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Glynn County, Ga.

The director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Vic Reynolds, also shed light on his department's swift decision to arrest two white men, a father and son, in connection with Arbery's killing, two days after taking over the investigation from local authorities.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

As the city of Los Angeles begins to ease some of the shelter-in-place restrictions put in the place to stem the spread of the coronavirus, another mandate will go into effect next week.

Anyone traveling through Los Angeles International Airport will be required to wear a mask or another type of face covering.

For sports-starved fans it was a welcome sight — even if delayed a few more hours by rain and a cloud of thick black smoke.

It was all part of opening day for the Korean Baseball Organization, which got underway Tuesday after a five-week delay caused by the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

There's a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus.

Democrat Kweisi Mfume, the former president of the NAACP, cruised to victory in a special election for Maryland's vacant congressional seat, which was formerly held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Mfume, 71, will serve out the remainder of Cummings' term, which ends Jan. 3. He also wants a full two-year team and is on the ballot for the state's June primary.

Serving in Congress will not be a new experience for Mfume. He represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District for five terms beginning in 1987.

In a significant shift for college sports, the NCAA's top governing body said it supports a rule change allowing student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, so long as the college or university they attend does not pay them directly.

As states begin to lift stay-at-home orders put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the NBA says it will relax league restrictions next month, clearing the way for players to train at some team facilities.

Beginning on May 8, players will be able to train and receive treatment at team buildings — as long as it can be done safely and as long as the facility is in a jurisdiction that isn't under a shelter-in-place order, NBA officials said.

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET

Health care workers, first responders and other essential employees working on the front lines of the coronavirus fight in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were greeted with a booming "Thank You" early Tuesday afternoon.

The military's elite flight demonstration squadrons — the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds — flew in what is being called "a collaborative salute" to honor those battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus cases have spiked on another U.S. Navy warship, with nearly 50 crew members aboard the destroyer U.S. Kidd testing positive, the Navy said Monday.

Restaurants across Tennessee are able to welcome dine-in customers Monday for the first time in nearly a month as the state eases restrictions put in place to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The step toward some semblance of normalcy comes a day after the state reported its highest single-day jump in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 478, which officials say represents a 5.2% increase from the previous day.

Unfazed by mounting criticism from mayors in his state and President Trump, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp forged ahead with his decision to allow businesses across the state to reopen Friday, as the confirmed coronavirus death toll in the United States passes 50,000 people.

Kemp, a Republican serving in his first term, was one of the last governors to impose a stay-at-home order for his state, which took effect on April 3.

The NFL draft starts Thursday night, giving most sports fans their first glimpse of live action, sort of, in more than a month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

No glitzy affair in Las Vegas as originally planned.

But the 2020 draft will be historic — just without fans in attendance cheering or booing their beloved team's picks. No newly-minted NFL player holding up a jersey of the team that just selected them. No draftees shaking hands with Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage.

A day after the eye-popping announcement that nearly 16 million new subscribers signed up for Netflix in the first quarter of the year, the video streaming giant said it wants to take on more debt so it can acquire and produce more content.

The Olympics won't be happening this summer, and a clash between the Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee over who will shoulder the costs of postponing the games is heating up.

Competition was slated to start in July, but last month IOC and Japanese officials agreed to postpone the Summer Games until the summer of 2021 out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is defending his decision to secure half a million coronavirus test kits from South Korea instead of waiting for assistance from the federal government.

The decision to lean on a foreign government has drawn a rebuke from President Trump, who said of Hogan, "I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would've been helpful."

For days, Hogan, a Republican, has expressed frustration with the Trump administration over his state's struggle to obtain more testing equipment.

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