Trump signs executive order targeting election interference

Clay Curtis
September 14, 2018

President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order as soon as Wednesday that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in US elections, based on intelligence agency findings, two sources familiar with the matter said.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, the current national security advisor John Bolton said that the executive order, which comes shortly before the midterms "is meant to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation of the political process".

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Wednesday that the government is now treating the 2016 incident as a "warning signal" for the 2018 and 2020 elections.

The State and Treasury departments will then be the ones to decide on the appropriate sanctions to recommend and impose, Bolton said. Check back for updates.

Congress passed a financial sanctions bill against the Kremlin over a year ago and since January 2017, over 200 individuals and companies with connections to Russian Federation have been subjected to its penalties.

The executive order does not name any particular country.

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

The harshest sanctions outlined in the order would be up to the president's discretion.

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The new executive order gives USA intelligence agencies 45 days after an election to report any efforts to meddle with the outcome. I think Department of Energy has made a clear statement of what his function there is, ' he said when asked by about the high-level visit, the first since Trump's Helsinki Summit.

He said sanctions could be imposed during or after an election, based on evidence gathered.

"Today's announcement by the Administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", they argued.

"As we enter election season this fall, the American people can rest assured that we are working diligently to ensure that our democracy remains secure from foreign threats", Trump said.

Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen, who have proposed legislation to attack foreign election interference, said Wednesday that Trump's action was too restrained.

"The July Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin has a visual effect that is searing and long lasting", said Laura Galante, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who has previously worked with the USA government.

Rather than issuing a weak executive order two years after these attacks, President Trump should have responded swiftly and strongly, they said. But he said the order will apply not just to Russian Federation but to others possible bad actors, including China, North Korea, and Iran. The White House publicized last moth that the National Security Council examined the issue twice with Trump presiding. "I'd say the same thing if [Barack] Obama was president", Mr.

With "lessons learned" from the 2016 presidential election, Coats emphasized that the administration and intelligence community's focus moving forward would be on the upcoming midterms and the 2020 presidential election. "This is an ongoing effort here, and it has been for a significant amount of time, and will continue on a, literally, 24-hour-a-day basis until the election".

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