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Migrant Children Sleeping on Ground at Overwhelmed Border Patrol Station; Biden: Crime Bill Did Not Generate Mass Incarcerations; Bloomberg: Trump Tower One of Least Desirable Buildings in New York; Actor, Comedian Tim Conway Dies at 85. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 14, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: CNN has just obtained exclusive photos from a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas, that demonstrate the overcrowding crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. Migrant families detained in a makeshift camp, no beds, no cots, children, some of them toddlers sleeping outside, some on the grass, some on gravel. They are only covered are these silk -- silver thermal blankets.

CNN obtained these photos from a source who was disturbed by the conditions over the weekend and passed them along. And CVP has confirmed the images are indeed authentic. Caitlin Dickerson is a national immigration reporter for "The New York Times" and a CNN contributor. So it's a pleasure to have you back. You have been down along the border. Done so much reporting. You've been to these facilities. But just to see these photos, what did you think?

CAITLIN DICKERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is not pleasant. It didn't surprise me. The problem is that the first time that we saw under this administration a record-breaking number of families cross the board was last October. And those numbers have gone up almost every single month since then. So the conditions that we're looking at in the photos they're not so much new. It's that they are on a bigger and bigger scale that's drawing more attention. And we're seeing them in many cases for the first time. But the facility is to house these migrants really haven't changed and so that is why, as I say, the conditions are the same but they are just affecting more and more people.

BALDWIN: This is what DHS is saying. They provided us with this statement, quote, border patrol stations are simply not equipped to handle the number of families and children arriving along the southwest border and we need Congress to act to provide immediate relief.

These are facilities designed to hold hundreds of people. But instead they are holding thousands of people. How did it get to this point?

DICKERSON: The very issue is that we've had the same discussion before that we've been hearing this same thing since last October at these facilities and many cases, they were built in the 1970s and 1980s and like I said, this trend started in October. Numbers had been going up even before then. So it's a reiteration of a concern without much of a change on the ground. And by all accounts we have a new DHS secretary who hit the ground running and is trying to expand detention along the border. But it is not happening quickly enough.

And so they've got an infusion of funds but the conditions in Central America haven't changed nor have the laws that protect people who want to come here. And also protect the process that they're going through and that's how we got to where we are now.

BALDWIN: We know DHS has asked the Department of Defense and the Pentagon for help with the overcrowding. Just from your own experience, what do you think needs to be done?

DICKERSON: I think we're at a point now where really the only thing that can be done is popping up big tents, using help from either the U.S. military or military contractors. But you remember that we've talked about those tents before. We saw them used to house migrant children in Texas, for example. And the public was so concerned about the conditions there that the tent cities were brought down. So there's not a whole lot that you could do other than tents at this point and you can do as much as you can. In many cases, they are soft-sided but they're air-conditioned and they've got food and they've got --

BALDWIN: It is better than --

DICKERSON: -- healthcare. It's better than what you see here. I don't think that it's necessarily going to satisfy the concerns of people who look at those photos and feel uncomfortable about what they see.

BALDWIN: And should it. Caitlin Dickerson, thank you.


BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, Vice President Joe Biden in a back and forth with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over climate change. She is slamming him for not going far enough and he said she has it all wrong.


BALDWIN: Former Vice President Joe Biden moments ago weighed in on the controversial crime bill from the 1990s that continues to follow him. Activists have blamed it for an era of mass incarceration. This is how Biden responded to it just a little while ago.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 92 out of every 100 prisoners behind the bars are in a state prison, not a federal prison. This idea that the crime bill generated mass incarceration, it did not generate mass incarceration.

I made sure there was a setup in that law that said there were no more mandatories except two that I had to accept.

So folks, we don't need any more mandatory sentences, period. I said it at the time on the floor of the United States Senate.


BALDWIN: In 1994 then Senator Joe Biden helped pass the crime bill that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Its provisions implemented many, many things including the three strikes mandatory life sentence for repeat offenders. CNN political reporter Arlette Saenz is in New Hampshire where Biden just finished speaking to reporters. And so, Arlette, this issue is not going anywhere any time soon?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That is right, Brooke. And Joe Biden is going to have to continue to facing and answering questions about this crime bill which he supported.

[15:40:00] And often times on the campaign trail even today as he was answering voter questions in Nashua at a house party, Biden often promotes what he said are the good elements of the bill. Like the violence against women act, that's one of his signature issues that he talks about at almost every event that he's at.

Also establishing drug courts and also working as it comes to putting more officers out in communities. But Biden in the past has expressed some regrets for the way that he has handled criminal justice issues. And today even saying that one of the biggest mistakes of that crime bill was the sentencing disparity that resulted from it between crack and powder cocaine. But going forward Biden is going to continue to face questions out on the campaign trail from voters likely about this and have to relitigate is one of issues from his long, long record that voters are going to be asking questions about heading in that Democratic primary.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about something else. Biden's response to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, this veiled shot at him, questioning his commitment to climate change. So here's that exchange.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY); I will be damned if the same politicians who refuse to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need a middle -- middle of the road approach to save our lives. That is too much for me.

BIDEN: I've never been the middle-of-the-road on the environment. I made a speech in Florida back in 1987 and talking about why there is an existential threat to humanity if we don't move. So this idea that I haven't done anything, take a look at the record. I'm sure she will get the time to look at it.


BALDWIN: So, Arlette, talk to me about that. But also today we know that the former Vice President praised that wing of the party.

SAENZ: Yes, that's right. And I asked Biden about that criticism that came from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Biden told me that he does think that his climate change plan is going to be -- to satisfy progressives who are looking for a bolder action like the "green new deal". And he has said that he is going to be releasing that climate change plan later in the month.

But Biden also talked about kind of the makeup of the Democratic Party right now and he talked about those progressive voices. Saying that there are new loud voices on the left and that they're ideas should be heard. But he doesn't think that the party is exactly as liberal as some are painting it out to be. And Biden also made a prediction about Republicans saying that once Donald Trump is out of the office, once he's no longer President, that they are going to have an epiphany and be willing to work with Democrats -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Arlette, out on the trail in Manchester. Thank you so much, Arlette Saenz.

Next the U.S. economy has been booming certainly under President Trump. But a new report shows Trump Tower in Manhattan has taken a big hit, becoming one of the least desirable buildings in New York City.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The greatest assets, Trump Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, Bank of America building in San Francisco, 40 Wall Street, sometimes referred to as the Trump building.

I will say the press has said whether you like him or not, there is no properties like that. I have the best properties.

I have -- I think among the best properties anywhere in the world.


BALDWIN: It's no secret President Trump loves to brag that he owns the best properties in the world. Of course, you remember when he used Trump Tower, June of 2015, that golden escalator to make his Presidential announcement.

But a new report in Bloomberg today says the Trump Tower has lost much of the shine becoming one of New York's least desirable properties. According to Bloomberg, occupancy rates inside Trump Tower plunging in the past seven years. Dropping from 99 percent down to 83. That is a vacancy rate about twice Manhattan average. Trump Tower now has 42,000 square feet of vacant office space. And CNN reached out to the Trump organization to get some sort of comment and we got no response.

Shahien Nasiripour is a reporter from Bloomberg who wrote about this. And Shahien, it is a pleasure to have you on. Let's get into the nitty-gritty of your article. So you talk about the last two years for people who own a unit in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue has been brutal.



NASIRIPOUR: So what we did is we looked through New York City property records just to see what the performance has been like for existing condo owners. So those who have tried to sell. Have they made money, have they lost money. And what we found we thought was kind of interesting. There have 13 condo sales since the election. Of those there are nine where you could see what the seller originally paid for the condo and of those nine, eight of those sellers lost money with their investment in Trump.

BALDWIN: Wow. In the last two years do you think part of that reason that it has been so brutal is because of the Trump name in New York City or is it because it is just a pain in the butt to get to now with the security and the barricades and everything else?

NASIRIPOUR: It depends on who you ask. Some folks have sold because they don't want to be associated with Trump.

[15:50:00] Some buyers aren't looking to buy in Trump buildings because of Trump and those are mostly political reasons. He's very divisive as you very well know. But for other folks, it's just a hassle. We spoke to one former condo owner, Michael Sklar. His parents own a condo in Trump Tower. They were from Phoenix. They'd only visit a few times a year and they actually loved it. And they bear no ill will towards Trump.

But the problem is, after he was elected, all of these security barriers went up. It got more difficult to get in the building, get out of the building, got hard to get food delivery. And Michael Sklar's mother was suffering from cancer, and her cab used to drop her off right in front of the building. So should go right inside her home. But then after the election, she'd be dropped off a few hundred feet away. And so --

BALDWIN: So tough for her.

NASIRIPOUR: -- it's a bit of a walk. And at some point, you kind of wonder, what am I paying for? Is this worth it?

BALDWIN: That they loved it, but it wasn't worth it to them.

NASIRIPOUR: That's right.

BALDWIN: Last question, despite these issues, you say net income at Trump Tower actually rose slightly last year --


BALDWIN: -- thanks to his 2020 campaign committee. Tell me about that. NASIRIPOUR: It did. So his 2020 campaign rent space in the Tower and

they've spent, I want to say they've spent about 800,000, $900,000 in rent payments to Trump over the last two years. And that's coming directly from his donors and going straight into his pockets. And as a result, in part because of that, net income for the building has actually rose. The building actually produces cash every year, about $10 million or so. The only issue is that not a lot of folks want to be associated with Trump for whatever reason.

BALDWIN: Shahien, thank you very much.

NASIRIPOUR: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Great job.

Just in, fascinating pictures from the Secretary of State's meeting with Vladimir Putin today there in Russia. We will show you what's happening inside.

Plus, what happens if you hold a congressional hearing and the key witness doesn't show up? Why the House Judiciary Committee may be about to find out.


BALDWIN: TV fans in the entertainment world are mourning the loss of a comedic legend today. Tim Conway has died at the age of 85 after battling a longtime illness. He played a central role in one of the most beloved TV comedies of all-time, "The Carol Burnett Show." Burnett says that she is heartbroken. CNN's Richard Roth has a look back at Tim Conway's amazing career.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's how comedian Tim Conway once summed up his whole life. I was born and then I did "The Carol Burnett Show" for 11 years. What else is there to know?


TIM CONWAY, ACTOR, COMMEDIAN: Get my back into that wall there.

CONWAY: It was marvelous. I had admired her from afar, from the other side of the television set for a long time.

ROTH: Conway started outside of Cleveland, galloping horses for his father, the horse trainer.

CONWAY: First of all, I wanted to be a jockey, but as you know, they ask you to get off.

ROTH: Comedian Rose Marie spotted him on a local TV show, recommending him to network star, Steve Allen.

STEVE ALLEN, COMEDIAN: And I think -- wait! You don't have your suit on! You don't have -- ROTH: His feet now wet in Hollywood. Conway was hired as the

bumbling ensign in "Mikhail's Navy."

CONWAY: Boy, you sure have a delicate touch. I didn't feel a thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't done it yet, ensign.

CONWAY: Thank you!

CONWAY: I just do what I think is amusing. I did, and it worked.

I couldn't go like the other elephants when they go whoop. All they can do is just blow and go --

ROTH: Conway was again a second banana on "The Carol Burnett Show", but comedy fruit ripened thanks to the host.

KORMAN: Tim Conway was so brilliant on "The Carol Burnett Show," and the main reason he was, was that Carol Burnett gave him so much space. Gave him so much latitude.

ROTH: Ad-libbing as seen in the old man skits.

CONWAY: Don't try to catch me!

CONWAY: I never did that old man until we were actually taping. It was a seven-minute sketch that went 23 minutes, because I was messing around.

ROTH: Conway described himself as the instigator, usually cracking up fellow cast member, Harvey Corman. In one of the show's most memorable sketches, Corman is the patient of a very inexperienced dentist.

CONWAY: Take a firm hold of the hypodermic needle, right.

ROTH: Conway told Conan O'Brien this actually happened to him.

CONWAY: In the army, Yes. A guy said, that we're going to pull his tooth, and so he took my lip like this and he stuck a needle in, and it went through my cheek and into his thumb.

CONWAY: I'll just give you a little shot here.

CAROLE BURNETT, ACTOR COMEDIAN: Poor Harvey, he had not seen the Novocain bit until we were doing it.

ROTH: Tim Conway won six Emmys in his career, four for his work on the "The Carol Burnett Show."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got five minutes to live, you can tell one joke again before you peg it, what would it be?

CONWAY: I would go hold up a bank. I've always wanted to do that. And take as much cash as I could and run out and once my five minutes is up, bang. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Mr. Conway's family has asked that donations be made to the Lou Ruvo Brain Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me today. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.