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 House of Representatives approved a waiver Thursday for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as President Biden's defense secretary.

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.

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.

Sean Urbanski, a former University of Maryland student who stabbed and killed a Black Army lieutenant at a bus stop in May 2017, was sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors said was a racially motivated hate crime.

A Prince George's County Circuit Court judge handed down the life sentence for Urbanski, 25. However, the judge denied the prosecution's request for a sentence without parole.

"I'm absolutely satisfied that justice was served," said Maryland State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy, whose office prosecuted the case.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office Thursday announced criminal charges for eight former state officials, including the state's former Gov. Rick Snyder, along with one current official, for their alleged roles in the Flint water crisis.

Together the group face 42 counts related to the drinking water catastrophe roughly seven years ago. The crimes range from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter.

Updated at 9:02 p.m. ET

Klete Keller, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, is facing federal charges in connection with the insurrection last week at the U.S. Capitol.

He has been released from custody without posting bond but with orders to stay away from Washington, D.C., except for court hearings and to consult with his lawyers, according to The Associated Press. He appeared before a federal judge in Denver.

Updated at 9:28 p.m. ET

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis, an environmental disaster that contaminated the majority Black city's drinking water with lead nearly seven years ago.

Updated 3:15 p.m. ET

Local and federal security officials expect about 20,000 National Guard members to be involved in securing Washington, D.C., for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week.

"I think you can expect to see somewhere upwards of beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia," Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said on Wednesday.

A Minnesota judge has ruled that the former Minneapolis police officer seen in cellphone video kneeling on George Floyd's neck for several minutes last summer, will stand trial alone in March.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill ruled that the trial for Derek Chauvin, who is facing charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd's death, will begin on March 8.

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook have announced stricter measures on their platforms aimed at curbing misinformation and further unrest in response to last week's deadly insurrection led by pro-Trump extremists at the U.S. Capitol.

Facebook is targeting content with the phrase "stop the steal," referring to false claims of election fraud. Twitter is targeting accounts that focus on the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Social media behemoth Facebook announced Monday it has created a new executive role at the company and that it will be filled by a veteran of the Obama administration.

Roy Austin Jr. has been named vice president of civil rights with the mandate to oversee Facebook's accountability on racial hatred and discrimination on its platform. He's slated to start Jan. 19.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Still reeling from the aftermath of the deadly insurrection at the seat of the U.S. government last week, U.S. Capitol Police have designated Yogananda Pittman as the law enforcement agency's acting chief.

She has been with the force since April 2001 and was named acting chief on Friday, according to the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website. That came two days after pro-Trump extremists faced off and eventually overwhelmed security forces at the U.S. Capitol complex.

Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died after sustaining injuries in the line of duty at the U.S. Capitol.
U.S.

Hours after congressional lawmakers certified his Electoral College victory affirming he will be the next president, Joe Biden took to social media to express what countless others have before him.

If the largely white, pro-Trump insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol had been Black Lives Matter protesters, there would have been a starkly divergent law enforcement response than what played out Wednesday afternoon.

Updated at 3:15 a.m. ET

A pair of Louisville, Ky., police officers connected to the raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment last year were formally terminated from the force, a spokesperson for the Louisville Metro Police Department confirmed Wednesday.

Pages