Trump orders use of sanctions to punish election interference

Frederick Owens
September 16, 2018

Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a decree authorizing sanctions for countries that attempt to influence the November mid-term elections, while his administration denounced possible attempts to do so from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

"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.

"It includes not just the interference with election or campaign infrastructure, but it also covers the distribution of propaganda, disinformation", US National Security Advisor John Bolton said. We're going to sanction people.' They gave 45 days after the election to report to DHS any interference.

Trump stunned the world during a summit with Vladimir Putin in July, seeming to take the word of the Russian president over his own intelligence agencies.

Trump's executive order declares that a "national emergency" exists linked to possible foreign interference in the USA elections, a declaration that creates a legal basis for the future imposition of sanctions linked to that issue.

The order will put a range of agencies in charge of deciding if meddling occurred, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and including the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department, the sources said.

Coats says the U.S.is not now seeing the intensity of Russian intervention that was experienced in 2016, but didn't rule it out. Coats did not tell reporters what evidence, if any, the intelligence community has seen of Russian hacking this year, but mentioned that he had seen "capability and attempts" from Iran, China, and North Korea as well.

Coates said that the administration acknowledges that there was interference in the 2016 election, and "we've learned our lessons".

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In response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the United Kingdom in March, the administration expelled Russian diplomats from the United States - a move, according to the unnamed White House official, that Trump was "reluctant" to make. He has cited USA sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US.

But Wednesday, Bolton said Trump has been consistent in voicing opposition to any foreign interference in American elections. "One of the things that really disturbs me is - that for whatever reason, I don't know what it is - the president's failure to dime out Putin and dime out the Russians for what they are doing".

FILE - U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Aug. 2, 2018. Trump dismisses the investigations as a political witch hunt.

Based on a recent draft of the order reviewed by the U.S. official, it will require any federal agency aware of election interference by foreigners to take the information to the office of Director of National Intelligence.

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.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen.

Justice and Homeland Security would have 45 days to make a determination and notify the president to trigger the sanctions.

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