Trump Executive Order Would Punish Foreigners Linked To Election Interference

Erika Holt
September 13, 2018

President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order as soon as Wednesday that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in US elections, based on intelligence agency findings, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Sanctions could include freezing assets, restricting foreign exchange transactions, limiting access to USA financial institutions, and prohibiting US citizens from investing in companies involved, national security adviser John Bolton told reporters.

Bolton says the executive order will work to stem disinformation campaigns or any attempt to manipulate the outcome of ballots.

Coats said US intelligence and law enforcement agencies were looking broadly for evidence of interference.

US lawmakers have introduced various pieces of Russia-related legislation, including the "Deter Act", to set out punishments for election meddling, and what one lawmaker called a sanctions bill "from hell" to punish Moscow for cyber crime and its activities in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

The sanctions will target anyone attacking election infrastructure or distributing propaganda or misinformation, national security adviser John Bolton claimed.

'This clearly is a process put in place to try to assure that we are doing every possible thing we can to first of all prevent any interference in our election, ' said Coats.

As The Washington Post first reported in August, the order appears to be an effort to stave off bipartisan legislation that would mandate tough federal action.

Lawmakers said the executive order, which would give the president decision-making power on imposing sanctions, was insufficient.

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Trump's order comes less than 100 days before American voters head to the polls for the midterm elections, and just two months after Trump was derided by both Democrats and Republicans for declining to press Russian President Vladimir Putin harder on Russia's alleged election meddling, after the pair met in Helsinki.

"Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters", Warner said. Trump did not directly answer the question.

Amid serious backlash from both sides of the aisle, the Republican president later explained that he "misspoke" and said he had "great confidence" in USA intelligence.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said the order leaves the president with broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions. Instead, he delivered a rambling response, including demands for investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server and his description of Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denial of meddling.

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

At their summit in Helsinki, Trump downplayed US intelligence assessments that Russian Federation was responsible for cyberattacks on Democrats ahead of the 2016 election.

New restrictions in the event of a future influence campaign might not mean much to Russian Federation; several of its intelligence bosses, intelligence officers and others already are subject to USA sanctions.

Added Coats: 'We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, from - capabilities potentially from Iran and even North Korea. "They are committed to undermining our system", Clapper said.

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