Trump to target election meddling with new sanctions order

Posted September 13, 2018

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that authorizes new sanctions on foreign countries or individuals that try to interfere in US elections.

The former Director of the National Security Agency, retired Admiral Mike Rogers, said Tuesday that he thought President Donald Trump should have taken the opportunity to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly in Helsinki, Finland over Russia's election meddling.

While Coates said that "we have not seen the intensity of activity from 2016", the intelligence community has seen signs that there are efforts underway by a number of actors to manipulate the political process this year.

Added Coats: 'We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, from - capabilities potentially from Iran and even North Korea.

That drew outrage from both Republican and Democrats.

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. With the current climate focused on Russian interference, Bolton was quick to clarify that the executive order is "not country-specific" and that Trump "cares deeply about it".

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional panels are investigating Russian interference, which Moscow denies.

The order instructs the intelligence community to monitor and report on attempts to disrupt election infrastructure as well as propaganda.

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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters on Wednesday that the USA is not now seeing a Russian interference campaign, but warned that "it's only a keyboard click away".

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.

Trump has also said he accepts the strong consensus view of USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation did interfere, including through propaganda and falsehoods spread on social media.

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

The State and Treasury departments would decide on additional sanctions to recommend and impose.

Bolton said Wednesday that the White House is open to ideas and proposals from lawmakers, but said new legislation might be slow in coming. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught.

The order was described by a USA official familiar with its drafting as "another tool in the tool kit" to deter election interference by foreign adversaries.

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 US sanctions. Bolton noted that the scope of the order included not just attacks on election infrastructure but also "the distribution of propaganda" meant to impact the electoral process.

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