Trump signs order permitting sanctions for foreign election meddling

Pauline Gross
September 13, 2018

At a press briefing following the executive order, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the move was "intended to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation" of United States politics, US media reported.

The order, which will allow new sanctions against Russian or other foreign actors, was inked on Wednesday morning.

"Today's announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a joint statement Wednesday.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton denied that harsh reaction to Trump's Helsinki meeting with Putin was partly what spurred the decision to sign the new order. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught. Coats did not tell reporters what evidence, if any, the intelligence community has seen of Russian hacking this year, but mentioned that he had seen "capability and attempts" from Iran, China, and North Korea as well.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters on a call organized by the White House that the ongoing threat is 'only a keyboard click away'. That legislation is focused against Russian Federation, as compared with the more ecumenical order announced by the White House. Those departments would then determine whether to move ahead with sanctions. 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 president appeared to side with Mr. Putin and against USA intelligence agencies that said the Kremlin meddled in 2016 to sow division, hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump.

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The Treasury and State departments also would be advised of the election attack and would be able to impose additional sanctions. The executive order, called "Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election", establishes a mechanism to impose sanctions on any foreign individual or company found interfering.

"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", they said.

"The July Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin has a visual effect that is searing and long lasting", said Laura Galante, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who has previously worked with the USA government. There is some frustration among lawmakers that with this executive order, Mr. Trump could be undercutting congressional efforts.

Bolton said criticism that Trump had been too deferential to Russia or blinkered in his view of Russian election interference played "zero" role in the new action. Coats asserted that the administration had always been working on the issue of election security.

DNI Coats said the measure was being put in place as part of government efforts to report on any suspicious activity between now and November's elections and to do a full assessment after the election that would trigger sanctions if necessary.

Other reports by GizPress

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