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.

The Pentagon confirmed Sunday a U.S.-led coalition airstrike has killed a top al-Qaida commander in northwest Syria.

The U.S. military said Abdul Mohsen Adballah Ibrahim al Charekh, better known as Sanafi al-Nasr, was a Saudi national and the highest-ranking leader of the network that is sometimes called the Khorasan Group.

A hidden chemistry lab was unearthed by a worker doing renovations to the iconic Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and school officials say the room is directly linked to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, who helped design the building.

The "chemical hearth," which dates back to the 1820s, is thought to be one of the few remaining in the world. It featured two sources of heat for conducting experiments and a system for pulling out fumes.

Update at 6:13 p.m. ET: Deadly Attack At Israeli Bus Station

Israeli police say at least 10 people are wounded and another two are dead, after an attacker opened fire at a bus station in the southern city of Beersheba Sunday. An Israeli soldier and the gunman, an Arab attacker, according to the AP, were killed.

NPR's Emily Harris, reporting from Jerusalem, tells our Newscast unit:

It's not every day you can plop down two bucks and walk away with some "junk" that is worth a fortune. But that's what happened when a collector purchased an old-timey photo from a Fresno, Calif., antiques shop.

It turns out, the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid is in the photo, apparently taking part in a leisurely game of croquet.

The image could be worth up to $5 million.

For the third time this decade, millions of Americans will not see an annual cost-of-living increase next year, the Obama administration announced Thursday.

The news by the Social Security Administration confirms a move that was already widely expected. It cited a drop in consumer prices over the past year as the main factor for not triggering the automatic increase.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is expected to plead guilty later this month to charges that he agreed to pay $3.5 million to cover up allegations of misconduct and then lied about it to authorities, according to his lawyers.

Reporting from outside the federal courthouse in Chicago, NPR's Cheryl Corley tells our Newscast unit that the alleged wrongdoing "occurred decades ago when Hastert was a history teacher and a coach at Yorkville High School about 50 miles southwest of Chicago."

Cheryl reports that a plea agreement would allow Hastert to avoid a trial.

Six church members, including a married couple, are in custody, accused of a brutal assault on two of the couple's children that left one dead and another severely injured, according to law enforcement officials.

New Hartford, N.Y., police say Bruce and Deborah Leonard, along with four fellow churchgoers, fatally beat Lucas Leonard, 19, inside the Word of Life Church.

NPR's Joel Rose tells our Newscast Unit that police say the beatings appear to have taken place during a meeting where the brothers were to ask forgiveness for their sins.

The Mississippi River basin has gotten a report card from a group that monitors watershed health and economic impact — and the grade is D+.

The organization, America's Watershed Initiative, cited the poor condition of infrastructure such as locks and dams, and a lack of funding that could lead to water security issues.

The Taliban announced Tuesday they have withdrawn from Kunduz, the northern Afghan city that briefly fell under insurgent control last month.

The Taliban said the reason for pulling out of the city was to protect against further civilian casualties, but there are multiple reports of battles continuing outside of the city. Kunduz is also the site of a U.S.-led airstrike that hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital and killed 22 civilians.

NPR's Tom Bowman tells our Newscast Unit, Kunduz was the first major provincial capital to fall under Taliban control in 14 years.

A federal appeals court has reinstated a civil rights lawsuit against the New York Police Department that accuses police of spying on Muslims in New Jersey.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a lower court's ruling last year that found police did not violate the rights of Muslims by routinely putting some people and businesses under surveillance in an effort to prevent terrorism.

NPR's Joel Rose tells our Newscast unit that the appeals court sent the case back to district court. Here's more from Joel:

In an effort to move beyond recent controversy, Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it will no longer accept reimbursement for any fetal tissue it provides to medical researchers.

The organization has been the subject of negative attention in recent weeks following the release of highly edited, undercover videos recorded by an anti-abortion group alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from its fetal tissue donation program.

In a move lawmakers hope will drive more Californians to the polls, Gov. Jerry Brown approved legislation that automatically registers citizens to vote when they obtain or renew driver's licenses or state identification cards.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is suing the manufacturers of an exercise band that he says failed and caused him to lose vision in his right eye in January.

In a stunning turn of events, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has withdrawn from the race to become the next speaker of the House.

McCarthy was the favorite ahead of Thursday's closed-door vote by House Republicans. He was in a three-way race for the top spot in the House with Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Daniel Webster, R-Fla.

Paper or plastic? If you're at a restaurant in the coastal city of Fort Bragg, Calif., that's what your food is likely to be served on these days.

The drought-stricken city, located about 170 miles north of San Francisco, recently declared a "stage 3" water emergency, which makes it mandatory for businesses and residents to reduce water usage.

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