Monday, 22 July, 2019

Trump OKs sanctions on countries that interfere in United States elections

President Donald Trump talks about Hurricane Florence following a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Tuesday Sept. 11 2018 Trump to issue order allowing sanctions on foreigners meddling in U.S. elections
Deanna Wagner | 14 September, 2018, 21:31

Bolton said that the United States considers interference to be not only attacks on election infrastructure but also the distribution of propaganda and disinformation.

The order declares a national emergency, Bolton said, and requires DNI to make regular assessments of activities targeting the USA electoral process, reporting findings to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.

US lawmakers have introduced various pieces of Russia-related legislation, including the "Deter Act", to set out punishments for election meddling, and what one lawmaker called a sanctions bill "from hell" to punish Moscow for cyber crime and its activities in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

With the midterm elections now two months away, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said the USA is not currently seeing the intensity of Russian intervention that was experienced in 2016, but didn't rule it out.

Trump has previously faced criticism for not being tough enough against Russian Federation after the USA intelligence community concluded that Moscow had influenced the 2016 presidential election, and the new measure could be an attempt to show a sign of force ahead of the upcoming midterms.

The order calls for sanctioning any individual, company or country that interferes with campaign infrastructure, such as voter registration databases, voting machines and equipment used for tabulating or transmitting results.

Congress already passed a Russian Federation sanctions bill a year ago, in one of Washington's most aggressive moves to punish Moscow.

"The executive order is not country-specific", Bolton said.

"You never know how long legislation will take", he said.

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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.

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

Mr. Trump later said he misspoke and vouched for intelligence agencies' findings.

"I think his actions speak for themselves", he said.

That's according to sources, who exclusively told Reuters an executive order could be signed by President Donald Trump as early as Wednesday (September 12).

Automatic sanctions should act as a deterrent, he said, although he added a major caveat.

"It was a politically perilous issue for the White House".

"James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, raised that concern".

The intelligence community would have 45 days to make its assessment, and then the two departments would have 45 days to determine whether action is required, he told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday. If interference is found, the DNI would have 45 days to assess who and report it to the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, who would then have 45 days to assess whether or not to apply sanctions. He called it a necessary response to Russia's "hostile acts against America's democratic system that were created to cause division and discord within our nation". "We want to ensure the American public that elections have not been manipulated, their vote has not been changed". Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said in a joint statement. It would set up automatic sanctions that take effect without White House oversight and at the discretion of the director of national security.