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 White House announced Sunday that President Obama is changing the name of North America's highest peak.

Mount McKinley — named after William McKinley, the 25th president, who served in the White House until his assassination in 1901 — is returning to its traditional Alaska Native name, Denali.

Obama will make a public announcement of the name change in Anchorage Monday, during a three-day visit to Alaska.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley announced on Sunday that he will support the White House-backed nuclear deal with Iran.

Merkley becomes the 31st Senate Democrat to endorse the agreement publicly, leaving the Obama administration just three votes shy of having enough votes to sustain a veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval — that is, of being able to advance the deal over Republican objections.

(This post was last updated at 3:43 p.m. ET.)

Two journalists for Virginia TV news station WDBJ were killed by a gunman Wednesday morning while they were broadcasting live at a waterfront shopping center about an hour southeast of Roanoke, Va.

Reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were doing a live report from Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta when a gunman opened fire, killing Parker and Ward and injuring Vicki Gardner, the head of a local Chamber of Commerce who was being interviewed. Gardner is now in stable condition, hospital officials say.

Five months after climbing a stone wall to enter the White House grounds, Curtis Smith used a knife to slash at a sheriff's deputy at an entrance to the Chester County, Pa., courthouse on Tuesday. The guard shot and killed Smith.

Here's part of a statement released by Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan:

Death row inmate Bernardo Tecero is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, making him 11th person to be put to death in the state this year.

Tecero, a Nicaraguan national, is condemned for murder of a school teacher during an armed robbery of a Houston dry cleaning establishment in 1997. A Texas jury convicted him in 2000.

There is no dispute Tecero is the killer. At issue, however, is whether or not he should be executed.

Sierra Leone's last known Ebola patient, Adama Sankoh, has left the hospital, dancing down a red carpet, with the president of the country cheering her on.

"It was like she was a rock star. There were at least 100 people there — politicians, press — everyone wanting a photograph of her," said a spokesman for the International Medical Corps (IMC) in Makeni.

Mansur Ball-Bey, the black 18-year-old killed by white St. Louis officers earlier this week, died from a single gunshot in the back, according to an autopsy report.

The autopsy's findings were first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There were two officers involved in the shooting; one fired three times and another fired just once, police told the paper.

The investigation of the shooting is ongoing.

The first two women to graduate from the Army's elite and grueling 62-day Ranger School said Thursday they were motivated to prove naysayers wrong and also break open the hatch for future generations of women.

Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, a military police platoon leader, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, spoke for the first time since completing their training at Fort Benning, Ga., a day before they graduate and receive their Ranger tabs.

Former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio, who was the state's first black congressman and who represented Cleveland and some of its neighboring suburbs for 30 years, has died. He was 90.

His death Tuesday was confirmed by a family statement and comes a month after Stokes revealed that he had been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. The family statement read, in part:

Yvonne Craig, best known for her role as Batgirl in the iconic 1960s television series Batman, died Monday. She was 78.

Police officers fired more than 600 rounds during an hourlong chase of three armed suspects in a bank robbery last year in Stockton, Calif. — which an independent review has concluded was "excessive and unnecessary."

Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state's current death penalty law is unconstitutional.

The decision spares the lives of 11 inmates already on the state's death row who were subject to execution even though state lawmakers passed legislation repealing capital punishment in 2012. That law applied to all future cases, not capital crimes committed before the legislation was enacted.

The court effectively closed that loophole with a 4-3 vote.

The biggest news to come out of Wednesday's high-profile federal court hearing on the "deflategate" saga had nothing to do with the NFL or Tom Brady's pending four-game suspension.

Veteran courtroom sketch artist Jane Rosenberg is grabbing most of the attention for her depiction of the New England Patriots quarterback. And of course the interwebs responded in kind, unleashing countless memes of the now-infamous sketch.

Outside the Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, Rosenberg defended her work.

Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL appeared in a Manhattan court today to update a federal judge on whether both sides are any closer to resolving a dispute over the quarterback's pending four-game "deflategate" suspension.

The public portion of the hearing lasted approximately 80 minutes before U.S. Judge Richard Berman met separately with Brady and league officials in private.

A federal court says outlawing "ballot selfies," photos of people displaying their marked ballots, violates free speech rights.

The ruling clears the way for New Hampshire voters to post their ballot selfies during the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries early next year.

New Hampshire's ban went into effect September 2014 and made it illegal for anyone to post a photo of a marked ballot and share it on social media. The violation was punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith will miss a lot of playing time after being "sucker-punched" by a teammate Tuesday. The fracas left him with two fractures in his jaw.

IK Enemkpali, a reserve linebacker who threw the punch, was promptly released by the team. Head coach Todd Bowles told reporters the altercation "had nothing to do with football."

Federal authorities have charged nine people in connection with an elaborate trading scheme involving hackers from Ukraine and securities traders in the U.S. that generated more than $30 million in illegal profits.

The federal indictments, unsealed today in New York and New Jersey, allege that hackers broke into three news wire companies to get early access to more than 150,000 confidential press releases — such as merger-and-acquisition announcements. This allowed the schemers to make trades on them before the deals became public.

Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles will begin recalling specialty license plates depicting the Confederate battle flag following a federal judge's decision last week to dissolve an injunction that barred officials from blocking such plates.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a semi-submersible vessel carrying more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine in the Pacific Ocean in the largest bust of such a vessel in the agency's history.

The cocaine seized was worth more than $181 million. The Northern California-based Coast Guard crew also apprehended four suspected smugglers after a Navy aircraft detected the 40-foot, self-propelled vessel traveling approximately 200 miles south of Mexico last month.

A federal appeals court Wednesday struck down a voter ID law in Texas, saying it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A 5th Circuit three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the law does not equate to a "poll tax" but does discriminate against minority voters.

The 2011 law, considered one of the toughest in the country, was in effect during the midterm elections last year. It was one of a handful of voter ID laws enacted in Republican-governed states. The Texas law required voters to provide certain forms of identification before they could cast a ballot.

This post was updated at 2:46 p.m. ET

President Obama delivered a foreign policy speech today aimed at bolstering public support for the Iran nuclear deal. He also attempted to discredit criticism from those who claim the agreement was a mistake.

"I've had to make a lot of tough calls as president. But whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls," Obama said during his remarks at American University, located about 10 miles from Capitol Hill.

The relatives of 16 victims of the 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., reached a proposed $1.5 million settlement Monday against the estate of the shooter's mother.

According to the Hartford Courant, each family will receive $93,750 apiece from a homeowners insurance policy that Nancy Lanza had on a Newtown home she shared with her son Adam.

The lawsuits were filed by the families of 14 victims who died in the school shooting and two who survived.

Zimbabwean wildlife officials have accused a second American of killing a lion during an illegal hunt, this one in April. It comes a week after the international furor set off by the killing of Africa's iconic lion Cecil by a Minnesota dentist in early July.

Long before Benjamin Carson was a Republican presidential candidate, he was a hero and a role model.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In a campaign looking for a jumpstart, Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul released a video Tuesday that attempted to grab some of the spotlight away from Donald Trump.

On the day when Nikki Haley, South Carolina's governor, proclaimed it "a new day in South Carolina" and signed into law the removal of the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds, one Democratic presidential candidate sought to clarify his stance on the flag's place in American history.

Jim Webb, the former senator and current presidential candidate, provided a nuanced answer to whether he was glad to see the flag gone during an interview with CBS Thursday.

Four years ago, pledges were en vogue in the early going of the Republican presidential primary. But a prominent one, that landed some of the candidates in hot water, is being nixed this time around.

Following a trio of Republican campaign announcements last week, Ben Carson leaps to the top spot of GOP presidential candidates in the latest Fox News poll tied with presumed GOP front-runner Jeb Bush.

Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee all entered the race for the Republican nomination early last week, but none has seen as dramatic a bump as the retired neurosurgeon.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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