Trump authorizes sanctions against foreigners who meddle in U.S. elections

Sep 13, 2018, 04:33
Trump authorizes sanctions against foreigners who meddle in U.S. elections

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.

The executive action came less than two months before the November 6 midterm elections, and two years after US authorities say Russian Federation meddled in the presidential race won by Trump.

The directive targets interference to include not only cyber attacks, but also election infrastructure interference and propaganda campaigns.

Coats told reporters on Wednesday the intelligence community continues to monitor attempts to influence USA elections, but "we have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016". "We have several that we are tracking", he explained, "and have seen signs, from not just Russian Federation, but China, Iran, and North Korea".

That drew outrage from both Republican and Democrats.

Bolton and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said the signing of the executive order on a conference call.

But, unlike a bipartisan bill now making its way through Congress, the order does not require Trump to issue stiff sanctions on such meddlers.

The move follows repeated criticism for the White House response to Russian-backed interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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.

'That It's something he cares deeply about that the integrity of our elections and our constitutional process are a high priority to him, ' Bolton said. In making that assessment, the DNI will consult with all of the US' multifarious intelligence agencies. It also describes a process for the Treasury and State departments to recommend appropriate, automatic sanctions.

Both lawmakers previously proposed legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on those who interfere in USA elections, rather than directing various departments and agencies to go through a months-long process. The order requires the Office of the National Intelligence Director to conduct regular assessments about potential foreign interference in the elections, asks for reports by the Homeland Security and Justice departments in the case of meddling in campaign-related infrastructure, he said.

The White House looks set to toughen up against foreign meddling in USA elections.

Sanctions authorized in the executive order include blocking of assets, transfer of property, U.S. investment in sanctioned companies, and restriction of travel. He said he was in talks with lawmakers about possible legislation. "And if we don't do something, they (the Russians) are not going to stop".

Trump signed the order just two months before the midterms.

At the same time, outside experts have warned for more than a year that Russian efforts to manipulate USA voters through misleading social media postings are likely to have grown more sophisticated and harder to detect.

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