Trump to target election meddling with new sanctions order

Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from Bedminster New Jersey to Washington U.S

Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from Bedminster New Jersey to Washington U.S

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at punishing foreign actors that attempt to interfere in USA elections, as Russian Federation did in in the 2016 presidential election.

Administration officials said the executive order sets up a framework for assessing interference, reporting it to the president and punishing it with sanctions.

According to national security adviser John Bolton, the sanctions are aimed at targeting anyone who attacks the election infrastructure or distributes propaganda.

Coates explained that the process outlined by the order called for a 45-day period within which the intelligence community was to assess whether election interference had occurred and who the actors behind that interference were.

The two intelligence officials insisted that the timing of the executive order has nothing to do with the criticism that followed the President's remarks at the Helsinki Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin back in July.

"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran, and even North Korea", U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters Wednesday.

Coats said US intelligence and law enforcement agencies were looking broadly for evidence of interference. "We have seen signs. capabilities from Iran and even North Korea".

"If we see something has happened, there will be an automatic response to that", he said.

That this announcement came first as a leak to U.S. news outlets and then as an announcement from National Security Advisor John Bolton underlines how fraught a subject it is for this particular White House.

The State and Treasury departments will then be the ones to decide on the appropriate sanctions to recommend and impose, Bolton said.

CBS News confirmed Tuesday that the White House was preparing the executive order.

"The president has said repeatedly that he is determined that there not be foreign interference in our elections", Bolton told reporters.

The administration has also leveled sanctions against Russian Federation on numerous occasions as punishment for the Sergei Skripal nerve agent attack, interference in the 2016 election and other "malign" activity.

But aides have said that Trump's anger at what he views as a questioning of his surprise election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton colors his view of the threat to future elections, and slowed down the administration's planning for this year's congressional election. If the USA determines that any foreign meddling has occurred, the executive order ensures a quick, forceful, and proportionate response, he said.

The executive order is being framed as an effort to demonstrate strength on the issue of election interference. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught.

"We are doing everything we possibly can, first of all to prevent any interference with our election, and then to do a full assessment after the election", Coats said Wednesday. He has cited USA sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US.

Congress already passed a Russian Federation sanctions bill a year ago, in one of Washington's most aggressive moves to punish Moscow.

"There is no question that protecting our elections from foreign interference is one of the most pressing issues facing our country today", Rubio and Van Hollen said in a joint statement Wednesday.

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