Trump signs executive order to allow sanctions for U.S. election meddling

Lamar Ellis
September 13, 2018

The former Director of the National Security Agency, retired Admiral Mike Rogers, said Tuesday that he thought President Donald Trump should have taken the opportunity to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly in Helsinki, Finland over Russia's election meddling.

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

US intelligence agencies concluded that entities backed by the Kremlin sought to boost Republican Trump's chances of winning the White House in the 2016 election against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Coats said the United States had seen signs of election meddling from Russian Federation and China, and potential capabilities for such meddling from Iran and North Korea.

"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.

The order, coming only eight weeks before congressional elections on November 6, drew immediate criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers as too little, too late.

Trump has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans, who accuse the president of taking a weak stance on accusations of Russian interference.

Bolton said under the order, the intelligence community would have 45 days to determine whether there was meddling in the election. The order declares a national emergency, Bolton said, and requires DNI to make regular assessments of activities targeting the United States electoral process, reporting findings to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.

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Bolton said sanctions could be imposed during or after an election, based on the evidence gathered. In making that assessment, the DNI will consult with all of the US' multifarious intelligence agencies.

After the reports are complete, the Treasury and State Departments would decide on appropriate sanctions to impose on the potential actors or countries.

At their summit in Helsinki, Trump downplayed USA intelligence assessments that Russian Federation was responsible for cyberattacks on Democrats ahead of the 2016 election.

Bolton said the order was necessary to ensure a formal process and authorization for sanctions.

In a joint statement, senators Chris Van Hollen and Marco Rubio - who co-sponsored legislation that would mandate heavy sanctions for election meddling - seconded Warner's assessment. Instead, he seemed to accept Putin's denials that Moscow sought to influence the presidential contest. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught.

Trump signed the bill into law only after Congress passed it with huge majorities.

In June, the U.S. slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and individuals for allegedly aiding Russia's intelligence agency in cyber-attacks against the US. But these sanctions have apparently not deterred the Russian government and other countries with an adversarial relationship with the USA from maneuvering to affect the outcome of some 2018 congressional races, according to Coates.

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