Trump OKs sanctions for foreigners who meddle in elections

Trump OKs sanctions for foreigners who meddle in elections

Under fire over his handling of Russian election meddling, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday meant to strengthen election security by slapping sanctions on foreign countries or people who try to interfere in the U.S. political process. It covers overt efforts to meddle in election infrastructure, such as vote counts, as well as "propaganda" and other attempts to influence voting from overseas, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told reporters. It also authorizes sanctions for engaging in covert, fraudulent or deceptive activities, such as distributing disinformation or propaganda, to influence or undermine confidence in USA elections.

National security adviser John Bolton said a new White House order on election security isn't aimed at any particular country. It also describes a process for the Treasury and State departments to recommend appropriate, automatic sanctions.

Trump has drawn widespread criticism for not taking threats to the US electoral system seriously enough, particularly Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. "We have several that we are tracking", he explained, "and have seen signs, from not just Russian Federation, but China, Iran, and North Korea".

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would turn over any significant findings of interference to the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security.

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.

"We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, but it's only a keyboard click away". They said Trump's order recognizes the threat, but doesn't go far enough.

The lawmakers said Trump's executive order does not change the need for legislation. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught.

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"While the administration has yet to share the full text, an executive order that inevitably leaves the president broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient", Warner said.

Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who is vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said, "Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters".

Congressional pressure for tougher federal defenses against foreign election interference grew following Trump's July 16 summit and news conference with Putin, when Trump avoided publicly confronting the Russian leader about Moscow's efforts to influence the election. Trump did not directly answer the question. "We want to ensure the American public that elections have not been manipulated, their vote has not been changed".

Trump has pushed back, saying that no other American president has been as tough on Russian Federation.

In June, the United States slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and individuals for allegedly aiding Russia's intelligence agency in cyber-attacks against the US.

With under two months until the first national United States elections since 2016, the Trump administration is outlining how it would respond to the kind of election meddling senior intelligence officials say could be coming. Russian entities have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016, Coats said Wednesday.

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