Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Will not tolerate any form of foreign meddling in USA elections

Will not tolerate any form of foreign meddling in USA elections

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that initiates actions, including sanctions, against foreign entities that meddle or even attempt to interfere in American elections, the White House said.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said the order leaves the president with broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions.

The sanctions will target anyone attacking election infrastructure or distributing propaganda or misinformation, national security adviser John Bolton claimed.

According to the White House officials, the executive order sets up an automatic and formal 90-day review process that will enable intelligence agencies to investigate whether a country, entity or person has interfered in an American election and issue sanctions accordingly.

Trump has drawn widespread criticism for not taking threats to the United States electoral system seriously enough, particularly Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

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

One source, a USA official, said the order would slap sanctions on any attempt to interfere in national elections.

While Coates said that "we have not seen the intensity of activity from 2016", the intelligence community has seen signs that there are efforts underway by a number of actors to manipulate the political process this year.

It is understood that Russian Federation is not mentioned by name in the text, but USA officials named that country along with China, North Korea and Iran as most likely to try to sway U.S. elections.

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"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.

Coats also declined to say whether he has yet received a full briefing of what Trump and Putin discussed in their one-on-one meeting, after telling reporters at the White House last month he was not in a position to "fully understand" what happened there. That legislation is focused against Russian Federation, as compared with the more ecumenical order announced by the White House.

"I think his actions speak for themselves", he said. The order, not yet released, is meant as a deterrent against interference in the 2018 midterm elections. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., are pushing a bill that would prohibit foreign governments from purchasing election ads, using social media to spread false information or disrupting election infrastructure.

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

"The president has acted decisively today", Bolton said.

Lawmakers have accused the administration of shirking its responsibility to protect U.S. elections and have been preparing measures to force Trump's hand.

But, they added, "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". "And if we don't do something, they (the Russians) are not going to stop". He has cited US sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the U.S.

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