Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Trump Executive Order Would Punish Foreigners Linked To Election Interference

Trump Executive Order Would Punish Foreigners Linked To Election Interference

President Trump moved Wednesday to deter foreign countries or people from meddling in USA elections, creating a mechanism to automatically impose sanctions when intelligence agencies detect cyberattacks.

"An executive order that inevitably leaves the president broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient", Mark Warner, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

The move comes less than two months before the 2018 midterm elections, and just weeks after Dan Coats, Trump's director of national intelligence, warned of a "pervasive messaging campaign by Russian Federation to try to weaken and divide the United States" before Americans go to the polls in November.

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. The order, Bolton said, will "protect the United States from foreign interference in our elections and really our political process more broadly".

"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran, and even North Korea", U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters Wednesday.

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Attempts to infiltrate the USA election infrastructure have waned since 2016, the director said, but potential threats are "only a keyboard click away".

"It's more than Russian Federation here that we are looking at", Coats said, noting that there have been signs of election interference coming from China, Iran and North Korea.

"We are looking forward, using the basis of 2016 as a warning signal.so that doesn't happen again", Coats said, promising round-the-clock monitoring through November.

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.

Some lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with the new executive order. "I think his actions speak for themselves".

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The order was described by a US official familiar with its drafting as "another tool in the tool kit" to deter election interference by foreign adversaries.

Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in USA elections by cyber attacks or other means, a United States official told Reuters.

Election interference will be defined in the order as hacking attempts against "election infrastructure", and efforts to sway public opinion through coordinated digital propaganda or systematic leaks of private political information.

Bolton said Wednesday that the White House is open to ideas and proposals from lawmakers, but said new legislation might be slow in coming. But he said the order will apply not just to Russian Federation but to others possible bad actors, including China, North Korea, and Iran.

In the discussion on Tuesday evening, Rogers also recounted his conversations with Trump about Russia's continued attempts to disrupt the United States electoral system through cyber means in 2016 and beyond.

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"This clearly is a process put in place to try to assure that we are doing every possible thing we can, first of all, to prevent any interference with our elections to report on anything we see between now and the election". He has cited USA sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the U.S.

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