White House readies sanctions on foreign nations for election meddling

Pauline Gross
September 16, 2018

"This executive order authorizes the development and application of sanctions against any individual, any entity, or country that authorizes, directs, sponsors, or otherwise supports interference in a US election", Bolton said.

The US President has signed an order that allows the government to impose sanctions on any person or country that interferes with US elections.


Coats and National Security Advisor John Bolton, who also presented the new order to the press, said it showed that President Trump was prioritizing American election security.

First the intelligence services will have 45 days to assess whether there has been an attempt to manipulate or influence a USA election.

The move follows sustained criticism of the president for failing to take seriously threats to the USA electoral system from foreign actors.

Trump's executive order declares that a "national emergency" exists linked to possible foreign interference in the U.S. elections, a declaration that creates a legal basis for the future imposition of sanctions linked to that issue.

The sanctions will be automatically triggered if any foreign interference has been found, said Coats, adding that the U.S. State and Treasury departments, sharing the intelligence information, could impose additional sanctions "if the automatic sanctions we deem is not enough".

A special counsel has been investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

"We have seen signs of meddling not just from Russian Federation, but from China, from Iran and even North Korea".

"And if we see something has happened, then there's going to be an automatic response to that".

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"I applaud the attempt to make it harder to evade, to let something fall away and not be countered", Michele Markoff, the State Department's Deputy Coordinator for Cyber, said during a panel discussion in Washington Wednesday.

Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in U.S. elections by cyber attacks or other means, a USA official told Reuters.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr told Fox News, "once again this administration said, 'We're not going to let Russian Federation meddle in our elections". He has cited US sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the U.S.

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.

Mike Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency, said he thought Trump missed an opportunity in Helsinki to publicly scold Russian Federation for meddling.

Then the USA attorney general and Department of Homeland Security will have a further 45 days to decide whether to go forward with sanctions.

The move appears created to be a shot across the bows of hostile countries, warning them off attempting to influence the midterm elections which are now just eight weeks away.

Coats warned last month that Russian efforts to undermine USA elections continue.

Bolton was joined on the call by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who outlined how the process of identifying interference and then imposing sanctions will work.

Coats also declined to say whether he has yet received a full briefing of what Trump and Putin discussed in their one-on-one meeting, after telling reporters at the White House last month he was not in a position to "fully understand" what happened there.

Other reports by GizPress

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