President Trump Signs Executive Order to Counter Election Meddling with Sanctions
15 September, 2018, 01:26 | Author: Sheila Harris
"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 order, according to administration officials, is broad in terms of who and what can be sanctioned.
The executive order covers not just interference with campaign infrastructure, but it also covers the distribution of disinformation and propaganda, national security adviser John Bolton told reporters. The attorney general and Department of Homeland Security then have another 45 days to assess whether sanctions should be imposed.
Trump has drawn widespread criticism for not taking threats to the USA electoral system seriously enough, particularly Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.
The executive order comes six weeks after Bolton and other administration officials warned that Russian Federation and other governments continue to seek to influence USA elections, including upcoming mid-terms in November.
First, it requires the Director of National Intelligence to conduct regular assessments of possible election interference.
The new executive order gives US intelligence agencies 45 days after an election to report any efforts to meddle with the outcome. "We have several that we are tracking", he explained, "and have seen signs, from not just Russian Federation, but China, Iran, and North Korea".
"We will combine that effort throughout the agency, and look to assess what has happened", he said adding that the executive order directs them to complete this in 40 days.
The order will allow the Director of National Intelligence to identify foreign meddlers and direct the Treasury Department to apply sanctions.
"The new executive order certainly does not absolve the Senate from passing much-needed legislation and funding to beef up our election security and prevent future attacks on our democracy from foreign adversaries", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "So I think this order is a further demonstration of that", he added.
Trump administration officials said Wednesday they have not ruled out working with lawmakers on additional measures, but said they did not want to have to wait for legislation to be approved before having a chance to act.
The order, coming only eight weeks before congressional elections on November 6, drew immediate criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers as too little, too late.
USA intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russian Federation was behind an effort to tip the scale of the U.S. election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorised campaign of cyber-attacks and fake news stories planted on social media. 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".
Trump has been dogged by accusations that he has not given enough credence to foreign interference in the USA election system, including in the 2016 race he won against Hillary Clinton. He has cited US sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the U.S. "And if we don't do something, they (the Russians) are not going to stop". Rather, it is meant to be a preemptive announcement of the planned USA retaliation for any cyberattacks or other interference in the November vote.
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