♪ >> this is "nightline." tonight, defector elect. reports to russian hackers attempted to influence the election. and celebrities uniting to inspire insurrection. >> the constitution gives electors the right to vote for any eligible person. >> now some electoral college members vowing to change sides. we're with one who has received death threats. could it really overturn the results? plus, the traffickers. behind the bright lights and seductive poses, a dark underworld. >> how many girls would you estimate to be trafficked here? >> the unlikely respiratory exposing black markets, extracting secrets from shadowy figures, tracing guns, organs and humans on their way.
reports of russian hackers attempting to influence the election have some members of the electoral college rethinking their votes. at least one is paying a price for it, receiving hate mail and threats. but he says the anger of his fellow americans will not deter him from putting principle over party. here's abc's david wright. >> i like that putin called me brilliant. >> reporter: from russia with love. or at least with strong admiration. >> i think it's great of russif and the united states can get together. >> reporter: donald trump has said he'd like to improve u.s. relations with moscow. >> wouldn't it be great if we got along with russia? is that a bad thing? >> reporter: all the more alarming then that 17 u.s. intelligence agencies say russia tried to interfere in the pleakz. tonight as the russian president arrived in japan, his spokesperson laughed off any suggestion that vladimir putin personally ordered the effort to hack the u.s. campaign. but u.s. intelligence officials say they're convinced he did.
>> for something to be proved at the highest levels of the russian government, something of this importance, that would require the personal approval of the president. >> reporter: and tonight, president obama seemed to agree upon. >> when anying fr foreign gover tries to impact the integrity of our leakedz, we need to take action, and we will, at a time and place of our own choosing. >> reporter: the very idea of russian hackers mettling in a u.s. presidential election, sounds like the plot of a cold war political thriller. >> he's the kindest, bravest, most wonderful human being i've ever met in my life. >> reporter: "the manchurian candidate" updated for the digital age. >> kindest, bravest, warmest, human being i've ever known. >> reporter: but as far-fetched as it sounds, that notion is giving members of the electoral college second thoughts. this week, they signed a letter
requesting an intelligence briefing before they cast their votes monday. >> i'm one of them. i sign onto that letter. i'm concerned when a foreign government interferes with our elections, they're not doing it with our best interest in mind. >> reporter: trump critics are jumping on the bandwagon, trying to sway the electoral college. >> republican members of the electoral college, this message is for you. >> reporter: today a group of famous actors, including some veterans of "the west wing," released this video appeal. >> as you know, the constitution gives electors the right to vote for any eligible person. >> no matter which party they belong to. >> reporter: the actors insist the founding fathers intend the electoral college to safeguard against an unwise choice. >> by voting your conscience, you can give the house of representatives the option to select a qualified candidate. >> the trump camp is outraged. just today he tweeted, if russia
or some other entity was hacking, why did the white house wait so long to hack? why did they only complain after hillary lost? of course that's misleading, the complaints have been around for months. it even came up in the debates where trump denied being putin's puppet. >> no puppet, no puppet. you're the puppet. >> reporter: to get some definitive answers on what the electoral college and how it's supposed to work, we've come to nps ha independence hall and the constitutional center. it's a non-partisan center, devoted to informing americans about the rules that sevrve as the foundation of our democracy. jeff rosen is its president. >> these are the founding fathers. here it is. this is the constitutional convention. and this is the only place in america where you can find statues of the framers that look exactly like the real guys. rosen says it's true. alexander hamilton did intend
the electoral college to be a sort of protection against mob rule. >> what would these guys make of the hamilton electors, the faithless electors, who are planning to switch their votes? >> sohamilton thought that the electors could exercise independent judgment and would be an elite check on the passions of the mob. >> reporter: he said hamilton lost out to james madison. >> after the election of 1800, madison founds the first political party, the democratic republican party, and pretty soon it's the political parties and not the independent electors who are actually picking the president. >> so the electoral college after that is just a vestige of this original system? >> exactly. that's a good way to put it. >> is there anything in the rules that says how the electors should cast their votes? >> there is stuff in state rules that say how electors should cast their vote. this elector from washington state co-founded a rogue effort called the hamilton electors. he's trying to get all 538
electors behind a unity republican candidate that isn't donald trump. >> what alexander hamilton outlined about the electoral college was the fact that they were a last line of defense ganes an unfit president. >> reporter: this week, they went to court, challenging a state law that obliges them to vote for the winner of the general election or face a fine. >> we strongly believe that's an unconstitutional law, and we want to prevent the state government from being able to impose that fine. >> reporter: but even with that law still in place, he says he's willing to risk the thousand dollar fine, in order to vote his conscience. >> we believe donald trump is clearly unfit for office. and we want to encourage and want any republican electors and democratic electors who want to make that choice as well. >> reporter: other electors say they've been bombarded with pleas to go rogue. one iowa elector said he's had more than 100,000 calls, letters, or e-mails urging him to do it. texas elector chris soup rein
said after he wrote announcing his plans not to vote for trump, he's gotten lots of positive feedback. >> you are an inspiration. love trump's hate. >> and a few death threats. >> the worst thing i've received in the mail is a threat to rape my wife and daughters before they kill me, if i do not vote for mr. trump. >> reporter: he said he supported trump during the election, but is now convinced trump is unfit to serve as commander in chief. >> i saw someone who was more interested in his own power than he was in our institutions. i had to look at, is he constitutionally fit for the office i am expected to vote for him on. >> reporter: it's unclear in the end how many electors will go rogue. today the a.p. informally polled the electoral college members and found only one of them plans to do it for sure. but especially this year, we know the polls can sometimes be wrong. brett shifalo of the hamilton electors insists the number is much higher. >> i believe between 50 and 75
republican electors have deep, grave, concerns about donald trump. >> reporter: true, hillary clinton won the popular vote, but for better or worse, that wasn't the contest, was it? the electoral college vote, the one that takes place monday, isn't a scene from "hamilton." ♪ ♪ it >> it's not even a scene from the west wing. >> i've got a meeting on the hill. >> you go get them, mr. president. >> you have the opportunity to go down in the books as an american hero. >> who changed the course of history. >> reporter: don't hold your breath. next, a reporter going into the depths of illegal trafficking to shine a light on international black markets. and later, a look at the first female ring master of the ringling brothers circus. e.
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♪ tonight we take you inside the dark world of trafficking. through the eyes of a woman who has made it her mission to live in it. her new documentary series uncovers some uncomfortable truth and exposes the methods of brutal criminal enterprises. here's abc's linsey davis. >> reporter: these situations are really delicate. this 28-year-old is traveling through bulgaria, on her way to meet with someone most young women fear. >> so i've been told that this is the former house of a drug barron who is now in prison.
this is where the pimp wants to meet. >> reporter: she's here to investigate the dark underworld of sex trafficking. when she comes face to face with a man who spent years as a pimp, he tells her, if i'm looking for a woman to be a prostitute, i don't look at her physical appearance, i look at her character, so i can manipulate her more easily. she doesn't seem to flinch. >> so you were never afraid of being caught by the police? >> reporter: he says, i had protection. pimps pay police. that's how it works. though small in stature, or maybe because of it, she's adept at extracting details of the criminal underworld from the people who conduct business within it. >> people want to talk. it's cathartic. they can express or tell a secret that they've been holding for so very long. we live in a black market world. >> reporter: now the face of the dock yu-series, the traffickers. >> with the right money, you can
buy anything. >> reporter: she's exploring illegal, often dangerous and multi billion dollar world of black markets. >> drugs, sex, and even human body parts, all sold by vast criminal networks. >> reporter: tracing the paths of weapons, counterfeit drugs, human organs, from consumer to source. >> these are the drugs. >> reporter: often finding herself in all sorts of compromising locations. >> what's going on here in the street is really, really intense. >> reporter: amsterdam's seedy red light district. >> god, it's so weird. >> reporter: is where she begins her look into trafficking women for the sex industry. >> they look quite relaxed. they don't look like they're having a bad time. >> reporter: the sex industry in holland is an illegal billion dollar business, but local authorities suspect many of the women on displays are being forced to work. >> it is big mother. if i'm a prostitute, i can use it again and again to make
money. so it's easy money. if you compare it to weapons and drugs. >> poor women of dollcolor are most ignored, politically, socially, and economically in the world. nobody cares about these women. i've just got a message from a girl who says that she's being trafficked and she wants to talk to me. >> reporter: a local reporter helps her meet this woman, who says she was forced to work as a prostitute for three years. >> minimum, i have to sleep with 30 guys per night. >> 30 men? >> yeah. my body was so tired. >> reporter: she says she was sold into prostitution by her grandmother. >> how did they break you? >> they beat you and they rape you. >> reporter: her pimp, also tattooed his name on her wrist, branding her as his property. in bulgaria, where she's from, it's estimated as many as 10,000 women and girls are trafficked into sex slavery every year. >> and i am supposed to have these profound reactions about
what i've just felt, but more than anything, i just feel hollow. >> reporter: she says her experience as an afghan refugee, helps her see nuance in the world which is so often portrayed as black and white. >> i'm a muslim, i'm a woman, i'm immigrant, i'm western and eastern. all those things are strengths. >> reporter: she's also outspoken for a journalist. >> because if you don't know how big the problem is, how the hell can you come up with a solution? >> reporter: a trait she traces to the discrimination she experienced after september 11th, growing up in the united kingdom. >> it wasn't just the fact that i was a muslim. it was the fact that i was an afghan. so i was going through school at the time. i was in high school. and i had chairs thrown at me. it was one of the things that made me a strong individual woman, and it was one of the reasons that i don't let anyone take my identity away from me. >> reporter: she's written about the need for activism in the era of brexit and president-elect
trump. your reaction to brexit and now donald trump becoming elected? >> that's my reaction. it's a tumultuous time and it's easy to scapegoat it. so it becomes very, very important for people who think like me, who are kind of in my position, to speak up. >> reporter: even, it seems, when her own assumptions are challenged and she finds herself jumping to unexpected conclusions. she leaves bulgaria to investigate traffickers targeting refugees fleeing syria, locatings an admitted trafficker in greece. >> he says he can provide anything his clients want, from women and girls, to new born babies. >> he brags did kidnapping a young syrian girl. >> do you not care about them as people? [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: but the conversation unexpectedly turns. he admits he's responsible but said that complicit cops and a corrupt legal system are more
guilty. >> you know things have fallen to pieces when you're siding with a trafficker. i feel like i have no idea what's going on here. this guy is one of the worst people i've ever met. >> reporter: but why would he talk? what does he have to gain? >> he explained coherently, there's bad people like him, but then there's the people who buy his product. those are normal folk, people who have jobs, wives, husbands, who are fathers and brothers. so who is the bad guy in that situation? >> reporter: she identifies poverty as the underlying motivator for people who turn to illegal trafficking rings. >> nobody wants to be a poacher, nobody wants to be a sex trafficker. they end up there. given the right opportunities, given the right situation, people will choose good and will want to do good. >> reporter: an optimist for sure. but also a realist when it comes to criminal markets around the world. >> there's one lesson in every blk market, and it's that you and i, we're culpable.
>> reporter: what message do you want people to take away from the traffickers? >> i want people to watch the traffickers and feel responsible for the world around them. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm linsey davis in new york. >> watch the double episode season finale of the traffickers this sunday at 10:00 p.m. on fusion, or get the season pass on itunes now. and next, it takes a strong woman to tame a tiger tamer. a look at the first female ring master of the ringling brothers circus. abc news "nightline," brought to you by ford. this holiday, get an amazing deal on america's most awarded brand, during the ford year end event. ford, the brand with the most 5-star ratings... the highest owner loyalty... and award-winning value from kelley blue book. giving drivers what matters most. that's how you become america's best-selling brand. shop now during the ford year end event. get a thousand dollars ford smart bonus cash on select models, on top of all other great offers.
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>> you're watching "nightline," honored, winner of three emmy awards for excellence. good choice. ♪ and finally tonight, the greatest show on earth just got greater. ♪ ♪ >> ringling brothers and barnum & bailey circus has reached a new height, this time announcing their first female ring master in its 146-year history.
♪ ♪ >> kristin michelle wilson is seeing the world after out-performing a hundred applicants from all over the country, who also auditioned for the job. >> that's really one of the best things about being a ring master, you get to be yourself, but you get to be the grandest version of yourself. >> but the 35-year-old florida native never clowned around about her circus prospects. aiming high and always shooting towards her dream. >> ever since i was a child, i have loved performing and entertaining, so to join the greatest show on earth is truly just the biggest thrill of my life. >> replacing former ring master david shipman. and taking her place as the 39th ring master in ringling history. ♪ ♪ the greatest show on earth >> reporter: she's singing and presenting some of the most daring acts across the globe. but her first performance next year will be in her hometown of orlando. ringling made big changes, from dropping elephants, to the first female ring master, backed by a
crew of daring trapeze swingers, tiger tamers, and high-flying acrobats. she's sure to be a tough act to follow. kristen's success reminded us tonight of the power of dreams. it was first lady eleanor roosevelt who said the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. thank you for watching abc news and as always, we're online at abc news.com and our nightline facebook page. thanks for the company, america, goodnight. >> welcome to hometown heroes week. for us, this week is all about paying tribute to some very special people who've done some truly amazing things. you can't put a price on the things these people have done, but a million dollars isn't a bad place to start. so let's play "who wants to be a millionaire." [cheers and applause] ♪ welcome, everybody. it's hometown heroes week on
"who wants to be a millionaire." i love this week. today's hometown hero received global attention as the pediatrician who was the whistleblower who exposed the flint, michigan water crisis. today we are celebrating her efforts by giving her a shot at $1 million. from flint, michigan, please welcome dr. mona hanna-attisha. [cheers and applause] doctor, how you doing? >> awesome. good to be here. ♪ >> honored to have you here. thank you for coming. >> honored to be here. thank you. >> happy that you have a shot to do some good and make a million dollars today. okay, again, this was a global story, the flint, michigan water crisis and the tainted water. you were the first one to shine a very bright light on this problem. >> right, so it's a disaster, and actually, the people of flint were the heroes in this story, and for 18 months they were complaining about their water and unknown to them, really to the world, that it was contaminated with lead.