All In With Chris Hayes, Monday, March 9th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Monday show
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: March 9, 2015
Guest: Chris Murphy, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Charles Bagli, David Feige
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: The end of these negotiations isn`t an
unintended consequence of congressional action. It is very much an
HAYES: Republicans declare war on peace talks, writing an open letter
to the mullahs in Iran to try and sink a nuclear deal.
Tonight, the president is responding.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it`s somewhat
ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with
the hard-liners in Iraq.
HAYES: Meanwhile, in Hillary land --
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: All of this is just the same
cockamamie stuff that we go through.
HAYES: Why new polling shows America is on track to get the election
Plus, a true crime bombshell from HBO.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was found inside this.
HAYES: Charlie Bagli of "The New York Times" on re-opening the case
against Robert Durst.
And why a hip-hop musical about America`s first treasury secretary has
everyone from Paul McCartney to Rupert Murdoch raving.
HAYES: My interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, PRODUCER: The fight between Hamilton and
Jefferson are the fights you`re still having on your network.
HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
A stunning escalation in Republicans` attempts to sabotage nuclear
diplomacy with Iran was on display today. The latest move, an extremely
unusual open letter signed by 47 Republican senators written to the Iranian
regime, essentially instructing them that any deal they reach with
Washington won`t be worth the paper on which it is printed.
Quote, "It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear
negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our
constitutional system. We will consider any agreement regarding your
nuclear weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing
more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah
Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with
the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the
agreement at any time."
The letter was organized by freshman Republican Senator Tom Cotton of
Arkansas who proudly admitted to a conservative audience back in January
that he wanted to quash the ongoing negotiations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COTTON: Certain voices call for congressional restraint, urging
Congress not to act now, lest Iran walk away from the negotiating table,
undermining the fabled yet always absent moderates in Iran. But the end of
these negotiations isn`t an unintended consequence of congressional action.
It is very much an intended consequence -- a feature, not a bug, so to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In other words, all this time, the White House has been urging
Congress not that pass new sanctions while negotiators were working out a
deal with Iran, because new sanctions might spook the Iranians and kill the
deal. But Republicans are saying, yes, that`s the point.
It`s a strategy that`s been playing out in other ways too. Just last
week, we saw the culmination of another highly unusual diplomatic gambit on
the part of Republicans when House leaders invited a foreign leader to come
to Washington to speak to Congress to essentially campaign against the
president`s Iran policy without even notifying the White House the
invitation had been extended.
It is perhaps an unprecedented series of power plays as the deadline
for a deal with Iran grows near and experts say negotiators are close to a
historic deal. The White House today framed Republicans` latest move in
the context of a partisan strategy to undermine the president on the issue.
The president himself sought to remind everyone who shares the Republican
goal who else wants to see any potential nuclear deal scuttled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it`s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress
wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran, it`s an unusual
coalition. I think what we`re going to focus on right now is actually
seeing whether we can get a deal or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Whatever the merits or objections to the individual deal that
might be reached with Iran, the details of which we do not know, I should
note, it`s striking to consider a world in which the opposite scenario were
playing out. Just now, imagine a Republican president openly planning a
military engagement against Iran, and nearly the entire Democratic Senate
caucus signing an open letter to the Iranian leadership, saying the
president does not have the constitutional power to go to war and
expressing an interest in a negotiated peace deal. And that should be
Joining me now, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut.
Senator, your reaction to this? How unprecedented is this? How
normal is it? Where does it rank in that scale?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I have never seen anything like
this. And to play out your analogy to recent events, imagine if in the
days or weeks or months leading up to the Iraq war, if Democrats in
Congress had sent a letter to Saddam Hussein advising him of Congress` role
in declaring war on a foreign enemy.
There`s no way that would have happened and Democrats would have been
roundly and rightly denounced for doing it.
So, I`ve never seen anything like it. I`m glad at least that Tom
Cotton is admitting that the reason for this is really to scuttle
negotiations. And hopefully, Republicans now will be willing to, you know,
have a really honest conversation about what they really want, because if
you are so enthusiastic about scuttling negotiations, but you are also so
enthusiastic about making sure that Iran doesn`t obtain a nuclear weapon,
then there`s really only one place to go, that`s a military strike against
Iran. That is a war with Iran. It`s something that even President Obama
has left on the table.
But maybe now we can have an honest conversation about the
consequences of their actions that they`re undertaking.
HAYES: Let me sort of get on the other side of this and play devil`s
advocate for a moment. I find myself torn between sort of two different
impulses on foreign policy, one is a preference for diplomacy over war
particularly in the circumstances as the general rule but the other is a
belief that the executive has gotten too powerful. Congress has really
passed the buck on matters of war and peace and there is something -- there
is some sort of institutional prerogative for Congress to insert itself.
What do you think about that?
MURPHY: So, I think that`s right and, you know, of course, if you
read that letter, there`s nothing to really disagree with except for the --
you know, maybe significant point that Cotton and his friends actually get
the Constitution wrong, it`s not actually the Congress that ratifies an
agreement. It`s the president that ratifies it. Congress approves that
But the reality is that Congress has abdicated its role on setting
foreign affairs, but there is a line which I think is inappropriate to
cross. When the president is sitting down across from a foreign power
negotiating a deal that can save the world from war, the Congress should
wait until that deal is signed and then weigh in appropriately.
I agree that Congress has the ability to step in and essentially
cancel out this deal by legislative initiative if it`s a bad deal. But we
don`t have a deal yet and so it is inappropriate for Congress at this point
to be stepping in and essentially trying to substitute itself for the
executive. That`s not what the Founding Fathers, I think, envision when
they asked Congress to play a role, both in oversight and approval of these
agreements that the executives are entering into.
HAYES: You know, today on Twitter, something trending was #loganact,
18th piece of legislation that essentially makes it a criminal violation,
illegal to conduct foreign policies with private citizens. Some people are
saying the Republicans are guilty of this.
What do you think of that?
MURPHY: I don`t buy that. I think it`s certainly within the bounds
of Congress` legal ability in order to send an open letter to the Iranian
leadership as they did today.
But again, I just think we should take this for what it is and there`s
this, you know, corresponding effort to have Congress weigh in immediately
upon this deal being reached. And I`ve been arguing to a lot of my clicks
to be careful about going down that road, because I just don`t think the
Republicans will look at this deal honestly. I think everything is going
to be colored by their hatred for the president.
And I think this is just another signal coming on the heels of the
partisan invitation to Netanyahu that Republicans really aren`t interested
in evaluating this deal. They`re just interested in trying to embarrass
this president. And let`s be honest, if this deal results in Iran
divorcing itself from nuclear weapons this a verifiable way, then there is
no president, a Republican or a Democrat, who is going to walk away from
that deal and, of course, none of us have seen it yet.
HAYES: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
Joining me now MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chair, Michael
Michael, is this politics as usual or is this an extraordinary step?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is politics of the
unusual in many respects.
I think the senator is right. I don`t think we`ve seen this kind of
reaction to a president`s negotiation in the past and certainly I know as
well as you and the senator noted, that if this were on the other foot, the
shoe on the other foot, Republicans would be outraged if Democrats had done
a similar thing during the Gulf War and during the war in Iraq.
Having said all of that, though, I think there is certainly
recognition or there should be that the Congress does have a role to play
here. The question is, are they playing it prematurely? I think a lot of
that has to do not to shift the focus or blame or anything like that, but
how much is the administration really working with the intelligence
committees and the House and the Senate, the respective leadership to make
sure that they are part of this process and they have this sense that there
is a level of verification. There is a level of truth to what the
expectation is going to be once this deal is executed.
No one in Washington or the diplomatic community, the political
community, foreign affairs community believes that right now Iran is going
to be a position to adhere or support or live up to any agreement that is
broached by the administration. They`re biding time given what`s going on
economically in that their country.
HAYES: First of all, I would just disagree with that. I mean, there
are lots of people who believe that they have incentives entering into a
deal and can enter into a verifiable deal. I mean --
STEELE: And the incentive is not the same thing as honoring the deal
three, four years from now. The incentive --
HAYES: Right. But the question becomes what are the --
STEELE: Why do you put a subset provision on the deal?
STEELE: But why is the administration advocating a sunset provision
on a deal like this? Ten years out, we`re going to revisit this
conversation about whether or not Iran should have nukes, either they`re
allowed to have them now or they`re not allowed them 10 years from now?
HAYES: That`s exactly not the issue, right? Because the issue is
it`s not a question whether they`re allowed to have nukes, right, the
problem is they could be a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, and
as we saw with North Korea, essentially under the cover of the NPT`s
allowances for civilian development, develops civilian weapons and step out
of the treaty in the next day, or within a few months, or within six months
have a weapon.
The question is how long that`s delayed and if bombing is going to set
them back for five years and diplomacy sets them back for 10, it does seem
to me like ten is greater than five.
STEELE: Yes, by the new math you`re absolutely right.
HAYES: It`s not new math. It`s the old math.
STEELE: But I think -- I think -- I think in terms, of how we`re
calculating the security of the Middle East and security of the world,
whether or not we want to even go down that road, and I think it`s a
legitimate question for Congress to ask, what is the administration
Yes, they can wait and see what the administration signs and puts on
the table then play catch-up, but I also think, it probably given the
significance and severity of this, that it is in the administration`s best
long-term interest to get a deal done to have at least some input, some
communication -- I`m assuming there isn`t given the Senate`s reaction.
HAYES: Let me ask you this, I thought the document -- the document
was interesting in a few ways. One, it`s couched as an open letter to the
Iranian regime and sort of constitutional lesson. Presumably right -- I
mean, whatever you think about the sort of moral stature of that regime and
all the terrible things they`ve done in terms of human right and abuses,
like they`re not idiots, right? Like presumably a country sophisticated
enough to put together a nuclear bomb can hire people to they will them how
the constitutional system works, right?
STEELE: Well, I have to admit that part of it was a little bit off-
putting to put it politely. I mean, it was like a little civics lesson.
You know, I was thinking -- remember that old program in the `70s, this is
how a bill is made.
HAYES: That`s right, they should have sent them -- they should have
tweeted them --
STEELE: Just send a tape.
HAYES: Schoolhouse Rock.
Michael Steele --
STEELE: Go ahead.
HAYES: No. Please, finish your point.
STEELE: No, you know this, is serious stuff and I think, you know,
the Congress has a role to play. The question that needs to be worked out
between the administration and the Congress is, do they have a role now or
do they have a role later?
HAYES: Let me just say this, I do think -- I sort of on the question
of sort of treaty ratification, advice and concept a strong question about
what role Congress plays on this. I just think it`s massively premature.
Michael Steele, always a pleasure. Thank you.
STEELE: All right. Here`s a quote today from a piece I love from
journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty on possible Bush-Clinton presidential
race. Quote, "It will be a boring substance-less grind that turns on just
which candidate`s operation can direct slightly more of the public`s
disgust over the worst parts of the last two decades at the other
On the bright side, it could be quite the learning opportunity and
tell you why ahead. Stick around for that.
HAYES: Co-creator of "The Simpsons", Sam Simon died yesterday at 59
after being diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and given just three months to
live. Late 1980s, he was hired to help put together a show based on
animated characters created by Matt Groening which became, of course, "The
Simpsons", the longest running animated show in history. He ran the
writers room and came up with the look for some of "The Simpsons"
characters, including Mr. Burns, Dr. Hibbert, Chief Wiggum.
He left the show after just four seasons because of tension with
Groening, but Sam Simon is more than just the co-creator of "The Simpsons".
He`s described as being but is described as an animal rights activist, or
depth vegan, philanthropist, art collector and poker champion and decided
to spend "The Fortune", he made from "The Simpsons", charity telling
"Vanity Fair" in an interview I`m an atheist but there is a thing called
tithing. Ten percent was the minimum and I always outdid that.
Here`s Simon in an interview last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how does that work? Someone tells you have
basically very limited amount of time to live and you say it`s the happiest
you`ve ever been. Explain that to me. How is that possible?
SAM SIMON: Somehow I ended up surrounded by people that love me and
take care of me and will do anything for me. It`s a good feeling. That`s
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When people around you that love you and you let
SIMON: I think I may have had a problem letting it in before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So cancer has been an incredible lesson to you?
SIMON: It`s -- it`s been a fight. It`s been an adventure. It`s been
an education. It`s been the most amazing experience of my life.
(END VIDEO CLP)
HAYES: All day people have been sharing their favorite "Simpsons"
moments on Twitter and Facebook. If you`d like to share yours, go to our
Facebook page at Facebook.com/allinwithchris and leave it in the comment
KEILAR: Jeb Bush has tried to set himself apart from his brother and
father by insisting that he`s, quote, "my own man." The fact that the
presumptive presidential candidate is closely related to two former
presidents came up more than once this weekend during Bush`s quasi-campaign
tour of Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: A lot of people know me as
George`s boy or Barbara`s boy or W.`s brother -- all of which I`m very
proud of to be honest with you.
I came back to work on my dad`s campaign.
I learned a lot by campaigning for my dad and for my brother.
People in Iowa treated all of the Bush family so well.
I really had a good time and my dad won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: While Bush was in Iowa spores supporters of Hillary Clinton
were trying to play down the revelations that Clinton used a private e-mail
exclusively as Secretary of State, something Clinton herself is expected to
publicly discuss for the first time later this week.
Much like Bush, Clinton supporters spent a lot of time talking about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARVILLE: You remember Whitewater, do you remember foul-gate, do you
remember travel-gate? Do you remember pardon-gate? Do you remember
All of this is just the same cockamamie stuff -- the story isn`t right
but says something larger about the Clintons. This is never going to end.
There`s one set of rules for the Clintons and there`s one for everybody
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: James --
CARVILLE: There`s always going to be a distraction in Clinton land.
There never is a time when there`s not. I have lived through this for 20
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As all of this was going on this weekend, something clicked
imperceptibly in the place for me in my head, a feeling not unlike the
despair felt by Michael Brendan Dougherty when he considered a potential
Clinton/Bush presidential race. There`s a very good chance that`s the race
Clinton is in as strong a position as any non-incumbent trying to win
a major party nomination has ever been. She appears to be a far stronger
candidate than she ran and almost won the nomination years ago. Bush
locked down the most sought after minds in his party. He`s doing very well
in the exceedingly important GOP money primary. Last week, we learned that
Bush is reportedly -- I love this detail -- asking donors not to give him
more than $1 million for now since all the big donations could appear
Meanwhile, new polling today from NBC News and "The Wall Street
Journal" finds there is some dynasty fatigue out there, the majority of
voters saying both Clinton and Bush represent a return to policies of the
past, most do not object to a general election featuring members of the
Clinton and Bush families. Now, I find the prospect of general election
that no matter the outcome will result in America having four out of five
presidents in a row come from the same two families, I find that
dispiriting, let`s say.
It would also, though, however, I have to say be a pretty honest
reflection in which power in concentrated among the elite and well-
connected and where most Americans, social mobility is little more than an
abstract idea. If Bush-Clinton is the election we get, it`s about as
truthful a mirror you could possibly hold up in the state of American
Joining me now, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The
What do you think of that?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: You captured a lot of what I
think. There is something going on whether fluke or structural that we
confront this dynastic moment. It does parallel the concentration of
wealth and power and what one might call the end of social mobility in this
country. It is not healthy for our democracy.
At "The Nation", we believe a contested primary certainly on the
Democratic side is good for the country, for the candidate, for the
HAYES: For everyone.
VANDEN HEUVEL: For people, for activists, for everyone.
HAYES: Arguments are good.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Debates, I mean, this country has enormous challenges,
right? You want an election that is commensurate with the scale of the
problems, the challenges this country faces, and if it`s just this kind of
even dynastic process, you`re not going to get those debates. You need
people who are going to come in and challenge the limits of the debate.
There are people out there -- you know that, Chris, I mean whether it`s
Bernie Sanders, James Webb, former senator from Virginia, Governor O`Malley
of Maryland and, of course, there`s Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has such
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- so resonated with the American people, many that
you have a Draft Warren campaign.
On the other hand, I do think Senator Clinton, to be fair, you know,
we hear a lot about dynastic politics. The Bushes are a dynasty. The
polls, Rand (ph) are a dynasty. The Clintons are not a dynasty. It is a
political marriage and I think it`s --
HAYES: It`s an important distinction.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I have a lot of issues with her issues, Senator
HAYES: Sort of substantively.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Substantively, but she is a woman that`s been two-time
senator, secretary of state and, you know, occasionally one could argue the
baggage of her marriage has not helped her.
VANDEN HEUVEL: So I do think we need to think hard about the
HAYES: This is an important point, right? So, when you talk about
the Bush family, right, and the Clinton family, the Bushes and Clintons,
there is a real distinction between two sons that inherited a mantel from
their father who inherited the mantle from his father, who of course, was a
senator, you know, down the line and a woman and a man who met as real
equals and forged an equal partnership and has her own profile, as Rebecca
Tracer (ph) pointed out as they met in a time --
VANDEN HEUVEL: In their lives.
HAYES: -- in their lives, and particularly in this sort of women`s
equality movement, such as that this was a way that it was very difficult
to imagine running as a 25-year-old woman back --
VANDEN HEUVEL: Absolutely, and when she spoke as the commencement
speaker at Wellesley and she was on the Watergate Commission and Children`s
Defense Fund, then she made a wifely move moving with her husband to
I do think -- listen, I think Senator Clinton is too tethered to Wall
Street. I do think you have a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party
between what I might call the Warren wing and Clinton wing of the party.
On the other hand, she is going to run in a different way than 2008.
She is going to embrace gender. She is going to bring to the fore the
centrality of women`s economic issues and link that to the struggle of the
middle class, and I think she will do so in an atmosphere in this country
where there`s much more resonance for kind of a populist tinged economic
feminism than there was in 2008.
HAYES: There is this problem which is sort of distinct from that. I
mean, the thing about I think part of what was extremely inspiring about
Barack Obama`s story was that it was a story about America that`s the most
-- the kind of story we like to tell ourselves about what kind of country
we are. Only in America could this kid go from where he was to go to the
White House and I think everyone -- a lot of people felt good about
themselves we were the kind of country that produced that.
You know, that`s not looking like -- even the insurgent, right -- as
you pointed out this is an important point. Even one of the big
insurgents, anti-establishment candidates in the Republican field is just
the son of the last insurgent anti-establishment candidate.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, you know, to go back to the issues, Chris, you
began by talking -- I mean, this is the first real post-Citizens United
open the slosh gates of big money, individual corporate --
HAYES: Without an incumbent, exactly.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Without an incumbent. So, what we`re witnessing is
the corrosion of American democracy and in that, we will witness if we
don`t -- when I say we, I`m talking about independent movements,
independent activists, people who want to have a debate that will raise the
issues this country needs to hear and I think that is incumbent upon us,
the people, because we the people deserve better than this dynastic.
HAYES: And it`s not an accident big money and dynasty, sort of, go
hand in glove, right, because social networks, donor connections. We`re
seeing it play out everywhere.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
HAYES: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, always great.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you. Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you.
All right. If you come from an Irish Catholic family, like I do, you
know that often the way our people deal with problems and crises is simply
never to mention them, hoping that somehow makes them go away. Apparently,
the state of Florida is trying that too with perhaps the single biggest
threat they face. I`ll explain, ahead.
HAYES: So, an organization called the Florida Center for
Investigative Reporting had a big scoop about how they run things down in
Florida off Governor Rick Scott. Apparently, according to Florida Center
for Investigative Reporting, the state`s Department of Environmental
Protection has banned the term "climate change" and "global warming", not
allowing its staffers, or attorneys or anyone else to use it.
Now the state is denying this, saying there is so such policy, but the
Center for Investigative Reporting has interviews, some of which on the
record, with people that used to work at the DEP saying it was known when
Governor Rick Scott came in you could not talk about climate change or
Now this is more than a little bit ironic, because if you had to pick
a state in the union that was risking the most from climate change, Florida
would be right up there. South Florida is facing, as The New York Times
said, ominous prospects from rising waters and, of course, Florida is in
the hurricane path. Most of the climate modeling we have shows that as the
Earth gets warmer and that ocean holds more and more warm energy,
hurricanes are going to get stronger and hurricanes have a way of finding
themselves on the Florida peninsula.
So Governor Rick Scott decides that the way to counter that is simply
to make sure that his state agency doesn`t discuss the thing, the way that
at a family dinner you might talk about your uncle who is alcoholic.
This all reminded me of a piece of art I saw that had stuck with me.
It`s by an artist name Isaac Cordall. It`s that big image there there.
And the title of the piece of work is politicians discussing climate
I think if you squint real hard right there in the back you can make
our Rick Scott.
HAYES: Time for a bonus ninth day of genius in MSNBC`s seven days of
genius project, and it`s the genius of founding father Alexander Hamilton,
the subject of an amazing new production here in New York City called
It is the single hottest ticket anywhere off or on Broadway, winning
rave reviews from everyone from Andrew Lloyd Weber to Rupert Murdoch.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with the genius behind
"Hamilton," Tony-award winning composer and my good friend Lin-Manuel
Miranda who has been
working on this project for years.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, COMPOSER: I`m thrilled the White House called me
tonight because I`m actually working on a hip-hop album that`s a concept
album about the life of someone I think embodies hip-hop, Treasury
Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
HAYES: Guests at the White House gathered that night probably weren`t
expecting a hip-hop performance based on the life of Alexander Hamilton as
told y his nemesis Aaron Burr. But that`s exactly what they got from actor
and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.
HAYES: What they also got was a very early sneak preview of the
biggest hottest ticket currently off Broadway.
MANUEL: So I started writing in 2008. I wrote that song I performed
at the White House in 2009. That was the only thing I had written at that
HAYES: Which is now the show`s opening number.
HAYES: That show is called "Hamilton." I was lucky enough to catch
it in previews. After all, Nin-Manuel Miranda and I go way back to our
days at Hunter College High School.
And over the last few weeks a parade of bold-faced names have made the
pilgrimage to New York`s public theater to see it. Everyone from Bill
As Hamilton lyrics will tell you, it`s the story of the $10 founding
father without a father as chronicled through hip-hop anthems and R&B
ballads. And it`s been years in the making.
Fresh off his debut musical "In the Heights" for which he won a Tony
Award for best original score, Miranda got his inspiration for Hamilton an
800-plus page book.
MIRANDA: I still lived in the heights when I picked up Ron Chernow`s
biography. At the end of the second chapter it was like, oh, this is a
hip-hop story, you know, Ron really captures the relentlessness of
Hamilton, and that`s what I sort of hooked into, too, this is an immigrant
who wrote his way into the top of American society, helped create the
country, and then wrote himself out of it.
HAYES: Miranda has spent the past seven years working on his latest
MIRANDA: And I wrote -- spent 2009 writing my shot and then in
HAYES: You spent a year writing that song.
MIRANDA: I spent a year writing that song.
HAYES: OK. What does that -- this is what is fascinating to me.
Like what does it mean spending a year writing a song?
MIRANDA: It means Hamilton is so much smarter than me that I need to
is the song where Hamilton like comes into the room and blows everyone away
with the strength of his oratory and so every couplet has to be amazing.
HAYES: "Hamilton," which is headed to Broadway this summer, not only
reinvents the musical genre but remakes our view of the founding father.
Portraying America`s first treasury secretary of reeking of new money.
Hamilton and his contemporaries are depicted as over the top braggarts full
of swagger and wit.
MIRANDA: New money.
HAYES: It`s new money, yes.
In fact, Jefferson says smelling like new money in the second act.
MIRANDA: Yeah, yeah and people made fun of him because he also like
overdressed like crazy. He designed his own uniforms for his own like
group of soldiers. He was like, well my soldiers are wearing this.
It`s very Kanye. It`s very like -- it`s very like -- like my guys
have to be
dressed tight. It`s really quite mad.
HAYES: The story of Alexander Hamilton is a story of ambitious 18th
Century immigrant from the Caribbean, a man who sheer force of will helped
lay down the foundation for a country, unique and quintessentially
Hamilton was he a genius.
MIRANDA: Hamilton was a for real genius, surrounded by geniuses.
HAYES: But like, for -- he was more -- watching your show made me
realize how much of a genius he was.
MIRANDA: Yeah, yeah, because he was largely self-taught. He really
wrote his way out of his circumstances and sort of played catch-up. He was
reading about monetary policy during the Revolutionary War in the event
that he`d be call to
serve as treasurer -- like he was thinking ten steps ahead.
I mean, I think if that`s the essence of genius, if it`s OK we have to
win this war, but also have to like figure out how not be in perpetual
revolution which is what we see all over the world today, which is what we
see time and time again throughout history.
You know, you see America stick the landing and then you see the
French revolution which goes -- which cycles from chaos to dictator Rose
Pierre to another genius Napoleon, who grabs everyone and says we`re going
this way, and American really stuck the landing.
And it`s a credit to one, you know, the virtue of coming up in the age
of enlightenment, and two, these men who thought how do we -- and there was
a lot of trial and error and I think one of the things that I`m proud of
about the show is they come off as very human. And Napoleon and says we`re
going this way and American really stuck the landing and it`s a credit to
one, you know, the virtue of coming up in the age of enlightenment and two,
these men who thought how do we -- and there was a lot of trial and error,
and you know I think one of the things is that I`m proud of about the show
is they come off as very human, and
their fights are petty and, but the stakes are a country that will last and
so the fights between Hamilton and Jefferson are the fights you`re still
having on your network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ACTOR: I am not throwing away my shot.
HAYES: The genius of Alexander Hamilton as told by the genius of Lin-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What would you tell like, 18-year-old or 19-year or a 20-year-
old Lin-Manuel Miranda who is like working on the heights, or someone else
out there who`s watching who`s like, I want to be -- I want to do this?
What do you know now that you didn`t know then?
MIRANDA: I know now that life`s not short, it`s long. Which is the
that Washington keeps telling Hamilton.
Dying is easy. Living is harder.
To really get it right you think, oh, my gosh, look at this amazing
first draft and then you realize what ten whacks at it can do to it, and
you learn, oh, I didn`t know anything. I didn`t know anything.
And so I would just tell them to hang on.
In the words of Outcast, hold on, be strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: If you`re watching that and you`re a hip-hop head, a history
buff, someone who loves musical theater or just loves things that are
awesome and you were thinking to yourself, wait, how can I see that, you`re
The run to the public is sold out but they just announced they`re
moving to Broadway this summer and tickets are already on sale if you come
to New York.
All right, when Robert Durst was acquitted of murder it surprised a
lot of people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: The New York Times, generally not known
for their ironic, humorous take on things, "New York City Real Estate Heir
is Acquitted of Murder in Texas. Durst, Who Cut Up A Body, Argued Self-
That`s as close as The New York Times will ever come to literally just
making a joke on the front page.
That`s like The New York Times just going can you [ bleep ] believe
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, now a new document The Jinx may lead to the re-
opening of that case.
We`ll talk about it ahead.
HAYES: Last week, we brought you our special All In America
investigation into the case of Rodney Reed who is currently on death row in
Texas for the 1996 rape and murder of Stacey Stites. The prosecutor`s case
hinged on a time line
first established by Stites` fiance, himself an initial suspect; and also a
match between Rodney Reed and DNA found inside Stites` body.
There was no other forensic evidence linking him to her murder. The
jury just took hours to convict him.
His case is now in the hands of the Innocence Project who says there`s
new evidence that exonerates him. And thanks to their work, a court stayed
Reed`s scheduled execution.
It remains to be seen what that court ultimately decides about Rodney
Reed and his guilt or innocence but over the course of our investigation
into his case and what it might indicate about the state of criminal
justice in Texas, one juxtaposition kept resonating, the difference between
Rodney Reed`s trial and that
of another far more famous murder trial in Texas, that`s the 2003 trial of
Durst is the wealthy son of one of New York City`s most successful
real estate tycoons. He had been living under an assumed identity in
Galveston, Texas when arrested for the murder of his 71-year-old neighbor.
The victim`s body was later found dismembered and dumped in Galveston Bay.
Robert Durst skipped bail and was on the run for a month before
getting arrested in Pennsylvania and extradited back to Texas. His $2
million defense team argued that Durst himself was the victim in the case,
that his neighbor had confronted him with his gun and in the ensuing
struggle, the gun went off, that in a panic, Durst chopped up the body, put
it in garbage bags and tossed them into the sea.
After deliberating for five days, the jury bought that self-defense
argument finding Durst not guilty, even though he admitted to butchering
the body, dumping it and skipping bail. The jury didn`t find enough
evidence of premeditated murder.
That wasn`t the only death or disappearance linked to Robert Durst.
The reason he was in Galveston in the first place, according to his own
testimony, was because a New York prosecutor had re-opened the
investigation into the 1982 disappearance of his first wife.
One of the people prosecutors were hoping to talk to was a friend of
Robert Durst, a woman by the name of Susan Berman, but she was murdered in
her home on Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills in December 2000.
And as detailed in the HBO documentary miniseries "Jinx: The Life and
Deaths of Robert Durst," there was a clue as to the identity of Berman`s
an anonymous letter sent to the Beverly Hills police department
postmarked on the day police believe Berman died, alerting them to a
cadaver at her home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Susan Berman was found shot dead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first person I thought of was Robert Durst,
because we were about to speak with her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Beverly Hills police department received a
letter in the mail, 1527 Benedict Canyon and the word cadaver.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re writing a note to the police that only the
killer could have written.
(END VIDEO CLPI)
HAYES: Then on last night`s episode of "Jinx" a shocking discovery:
Susan Berman`s stepson finds a handwritten letter from Robert Durst to
Susan Berman that looks horribly familiar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He showed me a letter from Bob to Susan that was
March before she was murdered. The address written on the front is exactly
like the cadaver note down to the misspelling of Beverly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That bombshell could be a new break in the case. Today, The
New York Times reporting the district attorney in Los Angeles has recently
re-opened an investigation into the killing of Mr. Durst`s friend Susan
Berman in December 2000 and is tying it to the case about his missing wife
in New York according to
four people who have spoken to investigators.
The reporter who broke that story and who has been reporting on Robert
Durst for 15 years joins me next.
HAYES: Joining me now The New York Times reporter Charles Bagli and
former public defender and author of "Indefensible: One Lawyer`s Journey
Into the Inferno of American Justice" David Feige.
Charles, let me start with you. You been reporting for the New York
Times on this case and the Durst`s for 15 years. At this moment in the
"Jinx" last night, which by the way I just want to say is an incredibly
well done series, you`re in it and you feature fairly prominently in it,
basically the way the cops know that Susan Berman is dead inside her
apartment is they get this note, right, this anonymous note. Or they know
-- they find the body before that, but this is the big clue, someone sends
them an anonymous note.
Last night we see a letter we know came from Robert Durst in which
Beverly is misspelled the same way and it looks exactly like the
handwriting. Did you know that reveal was coming?
CHARLES BAGLI, NEW YORK TIMES: No, you know, it was so shocking
because it looked like a -- an exact copy. And here`s the thing, in 2002,
while Robert Durst is sitting in jail in Texas, the L.A. police ask for a
handwriting sample and so, you know, Bob writes out something. But, you
know, it`s very hard to get a handwriting expert to say the block lettering
is the same because it`s different.
HAYES: Ah, interesting.
BAGLI: So, they thought, okay, that`s a dead end. So for, what is it
13 years it`s been a dead end. So this is a complete shock.
HAYES: So you saw that moment live in real time.
HAYES: And you were just like, oh. I mean...
BAGLI: It was a holy shit moment.
HAYES: Apologies for the word there. They don`t print that in The
New York Times.
Did you -- so you reported today about the fact that they are now re-
opening the investigation?
HAYES: What`s going on with that?
BAGLI: Well, L.A. has been -- they`ve been in New York interviewing
witnesses relative to Kathy Durst...
HAYES: That`s the disappearance of his first wife.
BAGLI: And they`ve been interviewing people in California relatives
Berman, because there`s a whole story there too about Susan`s relationship
HAYES: And these have been cold cases for a very, very, very long
time, people sniffing around trying to solve them.
David, let me bring you in here and I want to ask you this. You know,
I want to -- when you think about how important resources are to a defense,
I mean, one of
the episodes in this is this -- it seems like this guy is dead to rights,
right, I mean, he admits that he chopped up the body of someone. He`s
found with the saw that did it. Usually, usually...
DAVID FEIGE, AUTHOR: That`s a bad fact.
HAYES: Usually, yeah, that`s a bad fact a lawyer would say, right?
Usually your lawyer is going to say, hey, buddy, let`s plea this one
out and hope for the best. I mean, how -- I guess the question is, is it
the case that with enough resources can you beat anything?
FEGIE: No. It is the case that you`re more likely to beat anything.
But, remember, for every Durst, there`s a Dennis Kozlowski, there is a Ken
Lay or a Jeff
Skilling, those guys spent tens of millions of dollars on their defenses
and they all got convicted. So it is inaccurate, though tempting to say,
that you can
always buy your way out of things.
What`s true is you have a much, much better chance and that money
influences every aspect of the criminal justice system from the beginning
to the end.
HAYES: And I think the other thing to keep in mind is how much of --
we are used to watching "Law & Order" and we`re used to seeing big
celebrity trials that go to trial and it`s very easy to lose sight of the
fact that 9 percent of the iceberg sitting below the water is plea deals,
plea deals, plea deals, plea
HAYES: And your lawyer often telling you to take the plea because
that`s the most efficient way for the whole system to operate, for him to
go on to the next client and deal with them.
FEIGE: Well, I`m glad you brought it up, because frankly, one of the
places that money has an impact is bail, because bail is what determines
whether you get to fight your case from a position of freedom or whether
you sit incarcerated until it winds its way through the system.
Now, it doesn`t make that big difference in homicide cases, because
there`s never going to be a three-year offer, but in the vast majority of
cases -- and
homicides are only a small fraction of what happens in the criminal justice
FEIGE: You sit in jail because you can`t afford to pay your way to
freedom and often confronted with a deal that goes like this, plead guilty
get out, maintain your innocence and go to trial, stay in. And that I
would say is perhaps the biggest place that money literally cash money
affects the outcomes in criminal cases.
HAYES: There`s also a fascinating way that resources and money play a
role in the Durst case in that we find out that the Durst family hired a
lawyer for their son Robert when his wife went missing. This is lawyering
up before anyone`s named you as a suspect or puts cuffs on you, right
BAGLI: Absolutely. I mean, it`s also clear here Kathy goes missing
in West Chester County on a Sunday night. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, it`s not until Friday morning that Bob goes to a police station
and reports her
disappearance. But it`s in Manhattan, it`s not in West Chester, County.
So the investigation is off on the wrong foot from the first day.
HAYES: Five days, right.
And we also note -- Dave, do people...
FEIGE: Do people...
HAYES: Yeah, please.
FEIGE: I was just going to point out that -- and I think you were
driving at this very thing, there is another big difference in terms of
money which is by and large if you are a poor criminal defendant, you can`t
get pre-arrest representation. Most public defenders -- I mean by the way
the place I used to
work, the Bronx Defenders, open 24/7. You can walk in and get a lawyer.
But most public defender offices do not take cases pre-arrest. And so you
don`t get that service.
HAYES: Right. And that`s a key -- I mean we see time and time again.
In fact, we see often in cases where there`s an exoneration that a lot of
exonerations stem from false confessions because people aren`t lawyered up
and from the very moment with Bob Durst that family made up he was lawyered
from the jump -- Charles
I do want to say one thing. In the trial, there is no question, Bob
had three of the best lawyers, perhaps in the country, defense lawyers, I
mean, they were great. But I think also that they -- the prosecution
stumbled because here you`ve got this horrific event, somebody cutting up a
human being, you know, very
carefully with a bone saw, double wrapping in plastic bags and tossing it.
But the prosecution thought they had all the evidence in the world. They
had a newspaper that was in one of the plastic bags that tied it back to
the house. They had Bob`s optometrist appointment and tied it back and so
they didn`t think they had to explain motive, why this happened or
In the absence of an explanation of a good narrative from...
HAYES: Defense filled in the blanks.
BAGLI: Yeah. Here`s Morris Black, your nightmare, your worst
nightmare of a neighbor and he was.
HAYES: Charles Bagli, David Feige. Thank you both very much,
That`s All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>