Trump signs order authorizing "automatic" sanctions for election interference

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2018

It covers overt efforts to meddle in election infrastructure, such as vote counts, as well as "propaganda" and other attempts to influence voting from overseas, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told reporters.

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.

The order, which will allow new sanctions against Russian or other foreign actors, was inked on Wednesday morning. 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.

Amid serious backlash from both sides of the aisle, the Republican president later explained that he "misspoke" and said he had "great confidence" in USA intelligence.

The order comes two months before Americans go to the polls in elections that will determine control of Congress, potentially dramatically reshaping the balance of power in Washington.

"You never know how long legislation will take", he said. The intelligence officials saying that they have also seen interference activity out of China, Iran, and North Korea. The White House publicized last moth that the National Security Council examined the issue twice with Trump presiding.

The order, which comes just weeks ahead of November's midterm elections, will direct US intelligence agencies to investigate whether the election meddling took place.

The White House imposed a number of new sanctions against Russia in March for election interference, and the Justice Department filed indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers in July.

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'That It's something he cares deeply about that the integrity of our elections and our constitutional process are a high priority to him, ' Bolton said.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded past year that "bots" and phony social media accounts spread propaganda and sensational stories to influence the 2016 campaign.

The Treasury and State departments also would be advised of the election attack and would be able to impose additional sanctions. "We must make sure Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy".

Bolton said criticism of the president's response to the issue, which has included his controversial comments in Helsinki and numerous tweets, played "zero" role in driving the issuance of the executive order.

He said Mr. Trump has demonstrated that he won't stand up to Mr. Putin.

Coats warned last month that Russian Federation is trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections. Some lawmakers - including some Republicans as well as Democrats - have chafed at what they saw as the administration's reluctance to implement it. Trump signed the bill only after Congress passed it with huge majorities.

Mr. Coats said intelligence agencies were working around the clock to protect the midterm elections.

"This is meant to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation of the political process", national security adviser John Bolton said during a briefing Wednesday.

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