Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He has spent most of the 2016 presidential cycle covering the race for the GOP nomination.

When he's not on the campaign trail, Booker produces pieces from the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and other federal agencies for NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He previously served as the network's lead producer from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Booker served in a similar capacity during the 2012 presidential campaign producing pieces 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 the politics grind to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and is was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not working he enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and playing golf.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addressed the annual evangelical gathering known as the Values Voter Summit Friday in Washington, where in promised in part to give churches "their voices back."

The bombastic, at times crude, thrice-married GOP standard bearer does not exactly fit the mold of a nominee that religious conservatives typically champion.

A chaotic and tense scene unfolded just after Air Force One touched down in Hangzhou, China, where U.S. and global leaders are gathered to discuss the world economy, promote growth and curb carbon emissions.

Obama's customary exit from the plane came not from the usual door high on the fuselage, but instead from a lower portal. It seems there were no higher stairs available to roll up to the usual door.

With fewer than 70 days to go before Election Day, the Republican National Committee announced it is making significant strides when it comes to competing in battleground states in the fall.

It still falls far short of the ground game already in place by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

On Friday, the RNC announced the addition of 392 staffers and 98 new offices across 11 battleground states.

The new staff and field offices will be added in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said he stands by comments he made during the bruising GOP primary campaign earlier this year, including referring to Donald Trump, now his party's nominee, as a "con man."

"I've stood by everything I ever said in my campaign," Rubio said in an interview with the Miami Herald editorial board.

THIS POST WAS UPDATED AT 4:01 P.M. ET

A fresh batch of previously unreleased State Department emails are raising new questions about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during the years Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.

Three girls were injured after falling at least 30 feet from a Ferris wheel at a county fair in eastern Tennessee on Monday evening. Two of the girls are in stable condition while another, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, is in critical condition.

According to Dr. Bracken Burns, director of trauma services for Johnson City Medical Center, the youngest of the victims, a 6-year-old, suffered the head injury and had to be intubated at the scene and taken to a hospital.

Updated 6:25 p.m. ET with more cancellations

Delta says it canceled 680 flights Tuesday as the airline continued to struggle with computer problems.

Our original post continues:

Delta Air Lines announced it was grounding nearly 300 flights Tuesday, a day after a computer outage hobbled the carrier's communication and booking systems and forced it to cancel about 1,000 flights worldwide.

Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded on Monday.

The unofficial kickoff to the NFL season got off to a false start Sunday when the Hall of Fame Game was canceled due to poor field conditions and nervousness over players' safety.

The Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts were sent packing before the teams could even take the field in Canton, Ohio. At issue was paint on the midfield logo and in the end zones that hardened and raised anxieties that players might slip and suffer injuries.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

This post was updated at 2:38 pm

The lingering chasm between presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her chief primary rival was bridged Tuesday, with Sen. Bernie Sanders teaming up with Clinton at a campaign event, where he formally endorsed Clinton's bid for the White House.

A new report released Monday by the minority members of the House Select Committee tasked with investigating the events at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, absolves the U.S military and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of any blame in attacks that left four Americans dead nearly four years ago.

The findings by the Democrats on the committee conclude that the Department of Defense "could not have done anything differently" on Sept. 11, 2012, that could have saved Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

As the general election shifts into high gear, a pair of Republican governors and a 15-term representative this week voiced their frustrations with the party's presumptive presidential nominee and have decided they cannot get onboard the Trump train.

Fred Upton, R-Mich., joins Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and also Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ran for president against Donald Trump.

Gregory Cheadle, the black man singled out by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a Redding, Calif., rally on Friday, said he took no offense when the billionaire urged the crowd, "Look at my African-American over here."

Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player, outlasted Andy Murray in the French Open final Sunday in Paris. In the process he caps a career Grand Slam and becomes the first man in two generations to hold all four major championships simultaneously.

The eventual champion got off to a slow start, dropping the opening set to Murray 3-6. But behind the strength of his forehand, the No. 1 seeded Djokovic roared back, winning the next three sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 en route to his first French Open title.

Director Spike Lee became the latest black celebrity enter the battle of presidential endorsements ahead of this weekend's Democratic nominating contest in South Carolina. On Tuesday, the Bernie Sanders campaign released a radio ad called "Wake Up" featuring Lee.

More than 300 incidents classified as "close encounters" occurred between drones and manned aircrafts in U.S. airspace over a period of less than two years, according to a new study.

The report by Bard College's Center for the Study of the Drone, found that 327 incidents between December 2013 and September 2015 posed a "proximity danger" where an unmanned aircraft got within 500 feet of a plane, helicopter or other manned aircraft or when a pilot determined a drone was dangerously close.

House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a strong rebuke of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's call to impose a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Ryan, speaking during a news conference Tuesday, said he does not normally comment on what takes place in the presidential race, but felt it was "incumbent upon leaders," including himself, to "stand up and defend what conservatism is" and what Republican Party principles are writ large.

The Secret Service is an agency "in crisis" and one that has had its weaknesses "exposed by a series of security failures at the White House, during presidential visits, and at the residences of other officials," according to a scathing report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released Thursday.

Though he said an "honest debate" about abortion in the United States is valid, President Obama, following the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, again called for action on guns.

In his first news conference since Friday's deadly shootings at that Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Obama said Tuesday that Congress, states and local governments will have to act in order to prevent "people who are deranged or have violent tendencies" from getting weapons that can inflect mass casualties.

Part of the Australian coastline popular with swimmers and surfers will now be patrolled by drones as a way to protect beachgoers from shark attacks, government officials announced Wednesday.

The trials in the southeastern state of New South Wales are part of a AU $16 million ($11.6 million) program that will test the effectiveness of drone technology in mitigating shark attacks. The drones will send real-time images of coastal waters back to an operator using GPS coordinates.

The ruling party in Turkey swept parliamentary elections on Sunday and regained the single-party rule it lost in June.

The Justice and Development Party, also known as the AKP, "won substantially more than the 276 seats needed to win a majority, allowing it to form a government on its own," according to the BBC. The BBC adds:

"Polls had indicated the AKP would receive only between 40-43% of the vote, in line with how it fared in June, when it lost its majority for the first time in 13 years.

Updated at 7 p.m. EST

The Russian airliner that crashed Saturday in Egypt killing all 224 people onboard broke apart in flight, according to Russia's top aviation official.

A search team believes it has located the wreckage from the El Faro cargo ship that disappeared last month during Hurricane Joaquin, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The discovery was made Saturday afternoon at a depth of about 15,000 feet in the vicinity of the ship's last known location. The NTSB said preliminary sonar imaging of the vessel shows that it appears to be intact. It adds:

In what is being heralded as a milestone, members of Nepal's parliament elected Bidhya Devi Bhandari as their country's first female president.

The election, which took place Wednesday, makes Bhandari only the second person to hold this position since Nepal abolished its monarchy and became a republic in 2008.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was easily elected to serve as the 54th House speaker Thursday, ending a tumultuous few weeks for the Republican House majority as it scrambled to find a replacement for outgoing Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

Two days after a massive magnitude-7.5 earthquake rocked Afghanistan and Pakistan, aid workers were still struggling to reach survivors in remote and impoverished mountainous areas Wednesday, as the death toll across the region has climbed to more than 380, according to figures from the Associated Press.

Updated at 1:24 p.m. ET

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in a case involving millions of dollars in hush money to keep secret allegations of misconduct decades ago.

A judge set the sentencing for Feb. 29. Federal prosecutors have recommended up to six months in prison as part of a plea deal that allows him to avoid a trial. The judge, however, could sentence Hastert to a maximum of five years and fine him up to $250,000.

The Chinese government issued an angry response after a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer drew within a dozen miles of several artificial islands in the South China Sea that China and other nations claim as sovereign territory.

China's defense ministry said its own warships followed and issued warnings to the USS Lassen on Tuesday, according to Reuters, as it moved through the waters around the Spratly Islands.

Longtime NBA coach and Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has died.

He was 60 years old, and had been undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma over the past few months.

The Timberwolves organization announced Saunders' passing via Twitter Sunday afternoon.

In an election tainted by allegations of political payoffs and lack of planning, thousands of voters in Haiti took to the polls Sunday to cast ballots for presidential and parliamentary elections. This election day comes after years of delays and despite recent spates of violence during previous rounds of voting at polling sites.

Haiti, the Western hemisphere's poorest nation, boasts of having 5.8 million registered voters. Many poll watchers there expect a December runoff will be necessary because a whopping 54 candidates are vying to become the country's next president.

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