Trump to Order Sanctions Against Countries That Interfere in US Elections

Trump to Order Sanctions Against Countries That Interfere in US Elections

The order defines election interference in broad terms, going beyond direct hacking into election systems to include influence operations on social media-such as distribution of propaganda and disinformation-and the release of hacked political documents.

But the order received a lukewarm reception from bipartisan lawmakers pushing for a new sanctions law. Reuters first reported the existence of the draft executive order.

Coats warned last month that Russian Federation is trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

"I think his actions speak for themselves", he said. Trump has called the federal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election a "witch hunt".

During a press conference with the Russian leader, Trump undermined the U.S. intelligence community's universal conclusion that Russia had made attempts to attack the 2016 USA presidential election, through digital interference and other methods.

"We felt it was important to show the president has taken command of this issue, that it is something he cares deeply about, that the integrity of our elections [and] our constitutional process are a top priority", said Mr. Bolton, who briefed reporters on the executive order.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Wednesday that now, Trump had "acted decisively" on the issue.

The executive order in this regard is likely to be signed by Trump as early as Wednesday. Bolton said the order was necessary to ensure a formal process and authorisation for sanctions.

The president appeared to side with Mr. Putin and against US intelligence agencies that said the Kremlin meddled in 2016 to sow division, hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump.

Bolton said the order is not focused on any particular country, because threats to elections come from many different countries and entities.

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.

James Clapper, the former national intelligence director who appeared with Rogers and other former intelligence officials, said he personally believes that the Russian interference did influence the outcome of the 2016 election, but didn't elaborate. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who is vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said, "Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters".

But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Republican Richard Burr expressed hope the new executive order will "send a clear message" to Russia, Iran and others.

While the intelligence community keeps a close tab on any worldwide interference before the elections, after the elections, the executive order directs the intelligence agencies to assess whether or not whether or not there has been any individual entity, country that has authorised, directed sponsored or otherwise supported an interference in the United States election, Coats said. Coats said the United States had seen signs of election meddling from Russian Federation and China, and potential capabilities for such meddling from Iran and North Korea. But he said the order will apply not just to Russian Federation but to others possible bad actors, including China, North Korea, and Iran.