Trump OKs sanctions for foreigners who meddle in elections

Erika Holt
September 15, 2018

Interfering with election systems of pushing out propaganda and disinformation "constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States", he said.

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal previously reported on earlier drafts of the executive order.

"If we are going to actually deter Russian Federation and others from interfering in our elections in the future, we need to spell out strong, clear consequences, without ambiguity", Warner added.

The threatened sanctions are notable because they aim not just at foreign companies and individuals seeking to disrupt USA electoral infrastructure - electoral databases, vote tabulation processes and the like - but also of propaganda campaigns and leaks of sensitive political information. "So I think this order is a further demonstration of that", he added.

It is an attempt to guarantee the legitimacy of the congressional and state-wide elections on November 6 as well as future votes after Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 presidential race.

He was heavily criticised in July for not blaming Russia for the 2016 interference during a press conference with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, in Helsinki. He said the order also directs intelligence officials to conduct an assessment after elections to inform the public about what might have occurred.

The order comes as intelligence agencies, the military and law enforcement prepare to defend the November congressional elections from foreign attacks.

Bolton denied that Wednesday's executive order was an effort to reverse the damage from Trump's remarks after the summit with Putin, which prompted outrage among lawmakers in both parties.

Trump to issue order allowing sanctions on foreigners meddling in U.S. elections
Trump authorizes sanctions against foreigners who meddle in US elections

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"We felt it was important to demonstrate the president had taken command of this issue". "The integrity of our elections and our constitutional process are a high priority to him".

Beyond that, if the Department of State or Department of Treasury have cause and wish to add sanctions because they do not feel the automatic sanctions are "strong enough", those departments will be able to do so, Coats added.

But, they added, "we must make sure Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy".

The executive order applies to anyone who authorizes, directs or sponsors such meddling.

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. Those departments would then determine whether to move ahead with sanctions.

But he said: 'We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, ' when the USA intelligence community determined there was a Russian-backed effort. The intelligence officials saying that they have also seen interference activity out of China, Iran, and North Korea.

Coats said the executive order directs intelligence agencies to determine whether an individual, entity or country has interfered in a USA election and, if so, turn the information over to the attorney general and Department of Homeland Security. Intelligence agencies would have 45 days to make an assessment.

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