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Israel Claims Proof of Secret Iranian Nuclear Program; Stormy Daniels Sues Trump for Defamation. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 30, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. PowerPointing fingers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proof of the secret Iranian nuclear program prompting President Trump to say, he, referring to himself, has been 100 percent right on Iran. Will he rip up the nuclear deal with Iran even as he tries to strike another deal with North Korea?
Weak and pathetic. President Trump attacks U.S. immigration laws, calling them a total disaster. And he says there's no reason to apologize for his campaign call for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States. Is the president hurting his own case as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the future of his travel ban?
Stormy's new suit. Porn star Stormy Daniels files a second lawsuit against President Trump. With a California court putting her first suit on pause, she's now using a New York court to accuse the president of defamation. What's the basis of her case?
And alleged Uber assaults. Our investigation finds more than 100 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault or abuse over the last four years. And as victims speak out, a pattern in the cases is emerging. It's a CNN exclusive.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. President Trump seizing on accusations against Iran by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Mr. Trump weighs whether to rip up the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu accuses the Iranian government of lying about its nuclear program and says Israel has proof the regime is pursuing nuclear weapons at a secret compound.
Also, an exclusive CNN investigation is revealing that more than 100 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault or abuse, and at least 31 of those drivers have been convicted on charges ranging from battery to rape; and dozens of criminal and civil cases, they are now pending. We're going to show you -- talk all about the breaking news, show you much more.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger of the Foreign Affairs Committee is standing by. And our reporters and experts are also standing by.
First, let's get straight to the breaking news.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us. Jim, North Korea and Iran are both very much on the president's mind today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, in different ways, though. President Trump is still raising expectations for his plans to hold a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Pitching the idea of having the talks at the DMZ. But just as he appears to be lowering tensions with one nuclear power, he's ramping up the rhetoric on nukes when it comes to Iran.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
ACOSTA (voice-over): For President Trump, it's a tale of two nuclear deals: North Korea and Iran. The president seems eager to stage craft an agreement with dictator Kim Jong-un in the Demilitarized Zone separating North Korea and South Korea, a possible sequel to the pageantry of last week's historic talks between those two countries.
TRUMP: There's something that I like about it because you're there. You're actually there, where if things work out, there's a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country. So we are looking at the possibility of doing it in that location.
ACOSTA: The president sounded ready to place his trust in the North Korean leader.
TRUMP: He's talking about getting rid of the site, which was their big site. He's talking about no research, no launching of ballistic missiles, no nuclear testing. And he has lived up to that for a long period of time. A longer period of time than anybody has seen.
ACOSTA: But Mr. Trump is apparently prepared to rip up a nuclear agreement with Iran that was brokered with other world powers during the Obama administration. The president is putting his faith in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused Iran of cheating on the deal in a televised PowerPoint presentation --
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Tonight I'm here to tell you one thing. Iran lied. Big-time.
ACOSTA: -- that appeared to have an audience of one.
TRUMP: We've got nothing. We've got nothing. So that doesn't mean I wouldn't negotiate a new agreement. We'll see what happens. But I think if anything, what's happening today and what's happened over the last little while and what we've learned has really shown that I've been 100 percent right.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump was equally unwavering at a news conference with the Nigerian president where he was asked whether he had referred to some Africa countries as shitholes earlier this year. The president didn't deny it.
TRUMP: We didn't discuss it. And you do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in. But we didn't discuss it, because the president knows me. And he knows where I'm coming from, and I appreciate that. We did not discuss it.
[17:05:01] ACOSTA: When he was pressed on the controversy earlier this year, he ordered CNN out of the Oval Office.
(on camera): Just Caucasian or white countries, sir, or do you want people to come in from other parts of the world where there are people of color?
ACOSTA (voice-over): Perhaps in some damage control mode, the president lavished praise on Nigeria.
TRUMP: I'd like very much to visit Nigeria. It's an amazing country and, in certain ways, I hear from the standpoint of the beauty of the country, there's no country more beautiful.
ACOSTA: Still there were no regrets from the president as he again slammed the small caravan of migrants seeking asylum at the border and declined to apologize for his past call for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S.
TRUMP: There's no reason to apologize. Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster.
They are obsolete, and they are weak. And they are pathetic.
ACOSTA: Now as for the talks on North Korea, the president said Singapore is also being considered for the upcoming nuclear talks. A summit that may well happen at nearly the exact same time as he pulls the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Wolf, as you know, that is a move that most analysts believe will shatter the agreement and prompt Iran to restart a dangerous nuclear program. I talked to a source today who is closed to the discussions and said it is fully expected that Iran will pull out of that agreement if the U.S. does, as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta at White House.
Let's get more on the breaking news. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Should the president pull out of the Iran nuclear deal next month?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: It depends on what his following strategy is. I think it's a really bad deal. And in fact, when Secretary Kerry was in front of my committee before we had the nuclear deal, he said, "We're willing to walk away," and I knew that they were not willing to walk away. And Iran knew that, and they extracted a lot of concessions.
You know, my question when Macron was here, I have a great deal of respect for, he said, "I want the deal to continue, but I also want to create another deal when it comes to Iranian behavior in the area, ballistic weapons, ballistic missile, things like that."
And the question is, how do you do that without any kind of a stick approach? Iran basically got everything they wanted in this deal, including a lot of cash, which they are now expending in Syria and other places around the area. How do you get them back to the table to get a broader, more comprehensive deal?
And I think the president and his team are looking at this, saying, "Look, the nuclear thing is one thing," and in 15 years or actually ten years they're going to be able to sprint towards nuclear weapons anyway. But in the meantime, we have all this broad behavior that we have to do something about and maybe we can wrap all this together.
BLITZER: Well, so let me just repeat the question. He's got to make a decision, the president, by May 12. Should he rip up the deal from the U.S. perspective?
KINZINGER: Well, he knows the follow-on strategy. That's what I don't know. So if there's no follow-on strategy, I don't think you should do it on May 12. But I think he has a follow-on strategy, so sure let's get out TV and try to find a better way to get a deal that broadened to Iran's behavior -- look at Syria and elsewhere. This idea that this is something magic, it's just not.
BLITZER: The International Atomic Energy Agency, the five other countries involved -- the U.K., France, Germany, China, Russia -- they all say that the Iranians are honoring what they lived up to. They're honoring the commitment to freeze their nuclear program, the other aspects of it. They're not cheating. So why would you support ripping up the deal?
KINZINGER: Well, two points. No. 1, all those allies, who I have a great deal of respect for, said President Trump was being too angry with Kim Jong-un and with North Korea.
Secondly, as we found out from the Israelis today -- and I'd love to be able to read all that information that the prime minister had -- Iran has lied. They lied to the IAEA. They have been pursuing ballistic missile capability, even though the whole premise of the deal was based on the fact that it was for peaceful atomic energy.
So look, if the president decides to stay in the deal, I trust him on that, because I think he'll have a follow-on strategy, and if he decides to get out, I guarantee there's a follow-on strategy that's beyond just "We're going to walk away and now see you all later."
BLITZER: Would pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal undermine a potential nuclear deal with North Korea? Clearly, the president wants the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. KINZINGER: No, I don't think so, because a deal with North Korea is
not going to be flawed. I think that's been very clear. This president has invested a lot of energy in saying that the Iran deal was bad and that he's going to have a good one in North Korea that's verifiable, that's solidified. Plus he put somebody like a Mike Pompeo and the team around the president, I have no doubt that it will be a verifiable solid issue if we do it. There's some bargaining chips we can bargain with.
So to say we're going to walk away from Iran deal, if we actually end up doing that, I think can actually strengthen the president's hand to not just get a deal in North Korea, but to get one unlike in the past that actually works. BLITZER: The president's new national security adviser John Bolton
said North Korea should look to Libya as a model for denuclearization. Given what happened, though, to Moammar Gadhafi, the late Libyan leader, isn't that the wrong message to be sending Kim Jong-un? Gadhafi gave up its nuclear program after the Iraq War, and all of a sudden, a few years later, he's gone.
KINZINGER: No, I think it actually should be a lesson to Kim Jong-un to treat your people a little better, because otherwise they're going to rise up and kill you. And that's what happened in Libya.
In Libya, the people rose up against Moammar Gadhafi. He would not have had a full nuclear arsenal by then. People just don't like to oppressed. That happens in Syria and elsewhere. And then at that time, the U.S. and our allies -- and I think we should have been more aggressive in the follow-up of what happened in Libya -- but we came in and supported the free aspirations of the people of Libya. I think that's a lesson to Kim Jong-un, frankly, to Bashar al-Assad and dictators all around the world, that if you abuse your people, they're going to rise up, and you're going to die ultimately, basically, in the back of a pickup truck by being stabbed.
BLITZER: The president says the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has been very straightforward so far. Do you think the North Koreans are serious about full denuclearization, which the president repeatedly says that means giving up all their nukes?
KINZINGER: I don't know. I don't -- I don't trust North Korea at all. I've seen too many situations in the past where they have acted genuine, and we led to a really bad situation, you know, especially under Clinton, et cetera. So you know, I wouldn't say these things necessarily about Kim Jong-un.
But at the same time, if this is an opportunity, and you know, there's all this rhetoric, that is one thing. But when we ultimately come to a conclusion on this, if it is solid and it is, you know, correct and it is verifiable, and we can have inspectors in North Korea that aren't going to be played with and other things, the president deserves a ton of credit on this. And to be where we are now, we cannot overstate the importance of this moment. This is the height of diplomacy. If this fails, then I fear the only thing left is either North Korea gets a nuke or there's military action. That's it.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, this -- the consequences could be enormous. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.
KINZINGER: Any time.
BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. The porn star Stormy Daniels files a second lawsuit against President Trump, this one accusing him of defamation. We're learning new details.
Plus, more than a hundred Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse. We have details. It's a CNN exclusive.
[17:16:56] BLITZER: There's more breaking news. The porn star Stormy Daniels has filed a second separate lawsuit against President Trump, this one accusing him of defamation.
Let's go to our national correspondent Sara Sidner. She's working the story for us. Sara, this new case centers on comments the president made about a sketch that Daniels released of a man she says threatened her.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this defamation case, they're now asking for 75,000, in excess of that for damages.
This is the sketch that Stormy Daniels had made. It was a person, she says, who threatened her in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot. She says her -- she was with her infant daughter at the time, and the person told her to stop talking about Trump, told her to shut up. She said she felt very shaky, very threatened about that and then had someone make this sketch alongside her attorney, Michael Avenatti.
He has now filed this defamation case because of this tweet from President Trump on April the 18th. The president tweeted, "Here, a sketch years later about a nonexistent man, a total con job playing the fake news media for fools but they know it." And he has a picture of the sketch there below with a picture next to that of Stormy Daniels' husband or ex-husband at the time. And, you know, someone is trying to make the point that they look alike.
But Stormy Daniels' attorney says, "Look, this is defamation. This is basically calling her -- also saying that she's done something illegal, calling it a con job." And so he is suing for what I said in excess of $75,000. He said it will likely be much more and so that is what has been put forth. And it's put forth in New York court, not here in Los Angeles. Remember, there is still a case that is on a 90- day hold here in Los Angeles which is a civil case that is against the president, Stormy Daniels suing the president in that case to get out of her nondisclosure agreement -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There is also new information we're getting in that lawsuit about how Stormy Daniels ended up talking to "In Touch" magazine. Tell us about that.
SIDNER: Yes, it's interesting. In the lawsuit it says that basically, it was her ex-husband that was pushing this to "In Touch" magazine, and he did it without her knowledge. The lawsuit also says that the magazine -- the publisher of the magazine basically said, "Either we're going to do this story with or without you."
That is not how two sources we spoke to remember it. They say that they couldn't have done the story at all without Stormy Daniels, and they reminded us that she did sit down for a lie detector test in order for this story to go forward, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Sidner with the latest on that front. Sara, thanks very much.
Coming up, our investigation uncovers dozens of cases of alleged sexual assault and abuse by Uber drivers, with a pattern emerging as women speak out. It's a CNN exclusive.
[17:24:24] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking news right now, including today's revelation of what the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called Iran's lies involving the Obama era nuclear deal. President Trump this afternoon over at the White House hinted he may pull the United States out of the agreement while at the same time touting the prospects of negotiating his own nuclear deal with North Korea.
Let's get some insight from our reporters and experts. Phil Mudd, did Netanyahu's presentation, the PowerPoint presentation that we saw live on TV, did it make sense to you? Was there something new there that you saw?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I don't know. Because I don't trust him. I mean, Netanyahu has been busting us for years to do more on Iran. And lo and behold, when the president is supposed to make a certification before -- on or before May 12, we have him coming out, saying, "Well, I've got new intelligence."
[17:25:14] And meanwhile, the president has a new national security adviser and a new State Department adviser who are known to be pro- Netanyahu and anti-Iran, so I think he's playing politics more than intelligence on this.
BLITZER: What do you think?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, I mean, timing is rarely coincidental in domestic politics, and I'll note that we know that world leaders are paying attention to this deadline coming up. I mean, of course they are.
BLITZER: May 12.
CILLIZZA: Right. Trump has -- you know, we keep getting hints, rumors, Pompeo, the new secretary of state, saying things like he's likely to pull out. You know, rumors are this, that and the other thing.
It seems to me that Donald Trump is doing what Donald Trump does always, which is sort of putting himself out there as "I'm open to a negotiation." We heard it last week with Macron, a little bit with Angela Merkel. "I'm disinclined to do this." Remember, on the campaign he said this is the worst deal that has ever been done in the history of deals.
BLITZER: Not just on the campaign trail. He says it all the time.
CILLIZZA: Not only exaggerating. That's literally his words. So I think it would be hard for him to suddenly say, "You know, it's not that bad a deal. It's a one pillar; it's a building block." But I don't think there's any question that we know this president is malleable. Benjamin Netanyahu knows this president is malleable as it relates to policy, and he's trying to mold him.
BLITZER: Yes. Netanyahu ended his presentation by saying something along the lines, "I know the president will do the right thing. We have confidence," he said, "in the president."
What do you think is going to happen between now and the 12th?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, it certainly seems that the president is poised to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement despite what was a very intense last-minute lobbying campaign by Emmanuel Macron, by Angela Merkel.
But the important piece to remember about any new framework, if the president is going to try and go back to the table and negotiate a new deal, is it would require the buy-in of the other signatories, of Russia, of China and of Iran, which says that if the U.S. is walking away from this deal, then they, too, would not come back to the negotiating table, that they, too, will walk away from the accord, as it currently stands.
BLITZER: Yes, but the president also says if the Iranians were to restart, let's say, their nuclear program, they would regret it, because they would suffer enormously. He's making a direct threat there.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He is. But we haven't heard, really, Wolf, many other details about what he would be looking for in terms of an agreement and how would he enforce on that threat. What would he do if Iran were to violate an agreement and restart their nuclear program?
And so these are the questions that Donald Trump moving forward is going to need to answer. These are those thorny details that he's going to need to fill in. It's easy to say, "The deal we have now is terrible. And I want to withdraw." The hard part comes after when you are talking about crafting a new deal, potentially; we're looking at how do you keep Iran in check?
CILLIZZA: And he always talks about -- he talked about it on the campaign trail on Saturday in Michigan. He always says, "I don't blame" -- fill in the black world leader -- "President Xi for getting us over a barrel as it related to trade, but I need to look out for America." Well, to Rebecca's point, while Donald Trump is looking out for
America in whatever deal he says he's going to tear up and -- so are all these other nations looking out for their own interests. I'm not sure just because Donald Trump says we're going to renegotiate it, Russian, all these countries that have signed on say, "Oh, OK, well, let's go back." It's just not that simple.
Like many of his promises, it sounds good. "This is a bad deal. We're giving them billions. We've put money in a barrel." He always says, "Oh, that's outrageous."
The problem is, if you get rid of it, the prospect of something new to replace this, much harder to make real than he portrays it to be.
BLITZER: He seems -- at the same time he seems to be getting ready to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, he seems to be ready to get a new nuclear deal with North Korea.
Let's say he does rip it up by May 12. He's supposed to meet later in May, early June with Kim Jong-un. How does that affect U.S.-North Korean efforts at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula?
MUDD: I think like everything in Washington, D.C., these days, it depends on which side of the aisle you sit on.
If you're looking at Trump skeptically, you're saying how can you negotiate with the North Koreans in good faith and have them look over their shoulder and say, "Why the heck would we trust you?"
And by the way, if you're the Russians and the Chinese, you're also saying the same thing, particularly the Chinese in this situation.
If you're on the other side of the aisle, you're saying, "Look, what we're proving here is that we're serious and that he better show up to the table with real denuclearization or else we'll rip this one up like we ripped up the Iran deal."
BLITZER: Amidst all of this, Sabrina, there's a story NBC is reporting that John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, referred to the president as an idiot. All of us remember Rex Tillerson once supposedly referred to the president as a moron and he had an adjective describing what kind of moron he was referring to.
He just put out a statement, John Kelly saying this: "I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total B.S. I am committed to the president, his agenda and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and
distract from the administrations' many successes."
[17:30:22] We know there's been some tension between Kelly and the president, but that's his response.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Yes. And I don't expect that John Kelly would admit to having called the president an idiot behind closed doors. But certainly, he is someone who was brought in to try and bring some sense of stability to the White House, to try and exercise some control over the president.
But as we know, time and again, at the end of the day, the president is not someone who can be reined in. He will tweet what he wants. He will say what he wants. And there are people like John Kelly who have taken a lot of criticism for continuing to work for this president. They often frame this as a service to the country, and they talk more behind closed doors about what they've prevented the president from doing and seeing that as their real commitment on a day to day basis. And so I think these comments are very much, potentially, reflective of that ongoing friction behind closed doors.
BLITZER: Well, we do know, Rebecca, that some of his authority, Kelly's authority, has been undermined. Larry Kudlow, the new economic advisor, reports directly to the president, not to the White House chief of staff. John Bolton, the new national security adviser, reports directly to the president, not to the White House chief of staff. That's a sign of potential friction.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And the question is for how long is that sustainable. For how long does John Kelly put up with being a chief of staff without any real power? How long does the president decide he wants to keep John Kelly around when he's not actually fulfilling the full role of a chief of staff.
But I just want to comment also quickly on this theme that has emerged. John Kelly denies that he used the word "idiot" to describe the president, but clearly, a theme has emerged of people in positions of power in the White House and in Congress consistently describing, in private and in public, the president as someone who needs to be managed, someone who needs to be watched, babysat to use the words of Bob Corker in the Senate. It's really an astounding situation with the president of the United States.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Just one point, just to disagree slightly with Rebecca. I'm not sure -- the statement does not say, "I did not call Donald Trump an idiot." It says, "The story sort of writ large --"
BLITZER: Is total B.S.
CILLIZZA: You know, I mean, remember when Rex Tillerson said, "I'm not going to go down that road." Well, that doesn't mean you didn't call him a moron. It means you're not going to go down that road.
You could disagree broadly with the story, which is chaos and undermining by Kelly of Trump. I think they're trying to square that circle a little bit. That he may well have done that in private, but that the broad sweep of the story is wrong. If anything, this will probably keep John Kelly on the job another week or two longer, because we know Donald Trump doesn't like to do any make-goods with the media.
BLITZER: You remember me reported the other day that the president is using his personal cell phone increasingly to get around Kelly. Not go through the White House switchboard, which Kelly can certainly monitor with whom the president is speaking.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: And let's get the bet board out here. I keep saying we need one on THE SITUATION ROOM. He's not going to be here -- that is John Kelly -- for four years. If you have a man who's a four star who's made an entire career on discipline and order, especially when you're dealing with issues like Iran and North Korea, and when you get a story like this, I've got to believe he's saying, "I'm doing my duty for the country, but I'm not going to last" -- by the way, he should stay in. An idiot is better than a moron. So I think the president should be thankful --
CILLIZZA: Do you have a hierarchy?
MUDD: Yes, I do. And moron is below. So I think all in all, this is a good news story for John Kelly.
BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following, including a CNN exclusive. Although Uber advertises itself as a safe way to get a ride home, a CNN investigation documented at least 100 cases of Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse of female passengers. Stand by. We have details.
[17:38:35] BLITZER: Tonight, we have a warning for women who use Uber, which advertises itself as a safe ride home. A CNN investigation finds more than 100 drivers have been accused of sexual assault or abuse in the last four years, and it's a problem the $70 billion transportation giant Uber has gone to great lengths to keep quiet.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has spoken to two victims who are refusing to remain silent. Drew, what have you found out?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Uber doesn't release the number of drivers who are accused of sexual assault. So CNN decided to count up ourselves. We combed through police reports and court records, and the stories we heard were frightening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anxiety, depression --
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Like many victims, she feels shame, hasn't told her children, and is trying to protect her children, is trying to protect her own privacy --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
GRIFFIN: -- but still wants every woman to know what she says happened to her when she began feeling intoxicated at a Miami area bar, sought a safe ride home and used a convenient Uber app to summon a ride.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I don't remember anything until the next morning.
GRIFFIN: And the next morning?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next morning, I woke up, and both my pants and my underwear were on the floor.
GRIFFIN: Evidence pointed to assault. Her Uber driver, Nimer Abdallah, is charged with felony sexual battery, has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial. She is suing the company that promises a safe ride home.
A CNN investigation has uncovered dozens of cases like hers. None of the information comes from Uber, which did not provide CNN numbers on how many of its drivers have been accused of sexual assaults, the company saying they are working through their data.
Instead, CNN scoured public records, police reports, civil and criminal court cases, and talked with a dozen attorneys representing victims. The results: CNN has documented at least 103 Uber drivers in the U.S. who have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years. At least 31 of those drivers have been convicted on charges ranging from battery to rape. Dozens of criminal and civil cases are pending.
Uber is by far the largest ride-share company, with 15 million rides per day worldwide. And while hard to compare directly, the smaller ride share company Lyft, with 1 million rides per day in the U.S. and Canada, is also dealing with sexual assaults by its drivers. A similar CNN review found 18 cases of Lyft drivers accused. Four drivers have been convicted. A dozen criminal and civil cases are pending.
Lyft told CNN, "The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority." And the company says it has "worked hard to design policies and features that protect our community."
Many of the cases fit a pattern, like this one. When this woman was escorted out of a bar in Long Beach, California, and got into the back seat of an Uber.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fell asleep.
GRIFFIN: Drunk, young, alone. What should have been a ten-minute Uber drive home turned into three hours.
(on camera): You're in the backseat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
GRIFFIN: You were, I assume, passed out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He woke me up. He had to. He was already penetrating me, and then I remember him performing oral sex and then after that, I don't really remember.
GRIFFIN: She awoke the next day with severe pain. Like the victim in Miami, she went to a hospital and called police. Her driver, a 47- year-old man, was found carrying her cell phone at a car wash and arrested. He had been charged with a prior sexual crime but never convicted, which allowed him to pass Uber's background check. Charges against him in this case eventually dismissed.
The Uber driver insisted the sex in the backseat of his car was consensual. She is now suing Uber.
GRIFFIN: Were you able to fight back, tell him no?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was too inebriated.
GRIFFIN: The individual reports from across the country are horrific. In San Diego, an Uber driver pled guilty to raping one woman and sexually assaulting at least nine other women in a serial case that sent him to prison for 80.
In Northern Ohio, a Uber driver pled guilty to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, forcing a young passenger to perform a sex act on him.
In Fort Worth, Texas, an Uber driver allegedly kidnapped an elderly passenger, driving her to a wooded area where, according to the police report, he raped and beat her. He has not entered a plea.
Victims kidnapped, raped, trapped in cars with electronic locks. One victim told police she was forced to drink her driver's urine.
And multiple experts, from police to lawyers to prosecutors, tell CNN the actual number of Uber drivers accused is much higher than the 103 we found. Either the crimes aren't reported, there isn't enough evidence to prosecute, or Uber quietly settles the matter before a civil case can even be filed.
Uber first agreed to and then canceled an interview with CNN about this story. And instead, gave us a statement about safety updates the company has made since CNN first started asking about the pattern of sexual assaults months ago, including an emergency button, driver screening improvements, and the addition of the former secretary of homeland security to head up Uber's safety advisory board. The company insists it's "putting safety at the core of everything we do."
JEANNE CHRISTENSEN, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIMS: Uber has done a miraculous job of keeping the story quiet.
GRIFFIN: Attorney Jeanne Christensen has been suing Uber on behalf of victims since 2015. Uber, she says, settles cases and demands silence from all parties: nondisclosure agreements in exchange for a settlement.
GRIFFIN: How many cases have you and your firm handled?
CHRISTENSEN: I can't go on the record and say that. Because of confidentiality. Sorry. GRIFFIN: Multiple attorneys across the country have told CNN the same. Like other major corporations, any settlement offer from Uber comes first with a confidentiality agreement to be signed by the sexual assault victim. In fact, eight attorneys told CNN they couldn't even discuss their Uber cases.
CHRISTENSEN: It's one reason why our firm decided to file a class- action at this time. We're not simply filing cases so that Uber pays women money and their lawyers to be quiet about it anymore. And that was a conscious decision that we made.
GRIFFIN: In addition to money, Christensen's class action lawsuit against Uber seeks more thorough screening of drivers.
GRIFFIN: Wolf, you can become a driver for Uber completely online. Now, Uber does do its own background checks. But as for requiring background checks that involve fingerprints, critics, including government regulators, say the company needs to do much more to make sure its riders are safe, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Drew, what is Uber doing about all of this right now?
GRIFFIN: It was only after CNN began asking these questions about sexual assaults that the company tells us that they're implementing these new changes, like rerunning background checks each year. But no one from the company would tell us that on camera. In fact, an interview with an Uber executive last week canceled at the last minute.
Wolf, Uber provides millions of safe rides every day, as we reported, but as we have discovered, your ride is only as safe as your driver. One attorney describes Uber and other ride-sharing as electronic hitchhiking. Riders, especially women riding alone, need to be cautious how they use the service, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good advice. Excellent reporting. Thanks to you and your team, Drew. I know you guys work really, really hard preparing this exclusive report. We appreciate it very much.
GRIFFIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, startling revelations about Russian spies right here in the United States. Who they're watching and the deadly danger they could pose.
[17:51:27] BLITZER: Tonight, we have disturbing new details about the danger posed by Russian spies inside the United States. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd.
Brian, what are the Russians up to? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're told of an operation
conducted by Russian diplomats, some of them who were expelled from the U.S. last month.
Some of those diplomats were actually spies. And U.S. officials tell us they believe they were doing Vladimir Putin's bidding, to track and possibly harm Russian defectors in the U.S.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, strong indications that Vladimir Putin shows no hesitation in ordering his spies to be aggressive, even inside the United States. CNN is told Putin's spies were among those Russian diplomats expelled from the U.S. last month in retaliation for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.
U.S. officials say those spies were tracking Russian defectors who were being resettled in the U.S. In one instance, casing someone who was part of a CIA program to provide Russian defectors with new identities. And U.S. officials say they may have neem preparing to target those defectors.
ERIC O'NEILL, FORMER INVESTIGATIVE SPECIALIST, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION SPECIAL SURVEILLANCE GROUP: Those defectors who are here in the U.S. could be in danger. And it's quite possible that the Russian intelligence or the Russian government could be seeking to end their lives.
JEFFREY EDMONDS, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR RUSSIA, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: If the intent was assassination or intimidation of some sort, I think it sends a very clear signal, just as the Skripal case did, to any would-be traitors of the Russian government that it doesn't matter if you're part of some deal or part of some exchange. The Russian government can still come for you.
TODD (voice-over): It's right out of a scene from the popular F.X. drama, "The Americans," depicting fictional Russian sleeper spies who settled in the U.S. and posed as an American couple.
MARGO MARTINDALE, ACTRESS: One of our carriers went over to the Americans. Defected with his wife and their child.
KERI RUSSELL, ACTRESS: It could be them.
MARTINDALE: See if you can find out. If it is, he has to be dealt with.
TODD (voice-over): Officials in Britain and the U.S. have recently warned that Putin's government appears emboldened to carry out assassinations in western democracies.
Eric O'Neill, the former FBI counterintelligence agent who took down Russian mole Robert Hanson, says it's not likely those Russian spies working under diplomatic cover in the U.S. would have actually pulled the trigger themselves on the defectors. O'NEILL: That would leave no grounds for the Russians to have
deniability. It's more likely that you would have stringers or mercenaries or people who are here illegally who don't have Russian cover, have no tie to the diplomacy or consulate, who would carry out these sort of things.
TODD (voice-over): Experts say this case shows that, for Putin, there are no rules in the spy game with the U.S. Almost nothing holding him back from ordering surveillance or worse on foreign soil.
TODD (on camera): What accountability does he have? There are sanctions, but aside from that?
EDMONDS: I mean, I think he is -- you know, he still remains quite popular to the Russian people. He's surrounded himself with people that support him. There's a network there. And I just don't see this, you know, domestically really weighing against him at all.
TODD: Putin's government is denying this operation. His spokesman challenging reporters to provide names and saying, this looks like some kind of paranoia on the part of the U.S.
Neither the CIA nor the White House would comment on the reported spy operations, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, those spies who were masquerading as diplomats -- I'm talking about those among the 60 Russian so-called diplomats who were expelled. Will the Russians replace them with spies who will, again, target those defectors here in the United States?
TODD: Wolf, the former intelligence officials we spoke to say that, yes, the Russians will likely try to replace them with others who will try to take up the surveillance and tracking of those defectors.
[17:55:06] But they say the Russians have lost a lot of intelligence assets with those expulsions last month. It's going to take them a while to get this operation back up and running. And the eyes of U.S. counterintelligence are going to be even more keenly watching for this.
BLITZER: I'm sure they will be. All right, Brian, good report. Thank you.
There is breaking news next, what President Trump said that prompted Stormy Daniels to file a second lawsuit against him. We're learning new details, new information. We'll be right back.
[17:59:58] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Suing the President. Stormy Daniels and her lawyer are expanding their legal battle with Mr. Trump, making the case she's been defamed. What does the porn star stand to gain from this new lawsuit after a judge put her previous suit on hold?