Trump signs order to impose sanctions for US election meddling
Trump signs order to impose sanctions for US election meddling
Trump to target election meddling with new sanctions order
15 September, 2018, 01:26
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at punishing foreign actors that attempt to interfere in USA elections, as Russian Federation did in in the 2016 presidential election.
"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", Democratic senator Mark Warner said Wednesday.
The sanctions authority would be the latest effort by the Trump administration to address to concerns raised by US intelligence agencies that Russian Federation is seeking to interfere in the 2018 USA elections after doing so two years ago.
Within 45 days after any United States election, the intelligence services will have to evaluate whether there were attempts by a foreign government or person acting as an agent of another government to interfere with the election, according to the decree.
He has appeared to take Russian President Vladimir Putin's word that Russia did not interfere on his behalf in the election, most recently when he and the Russian leader met for a widely criticized summit in Helsinki, in July.
The order came weeks ahead of the US midterm elections which will be held in November.
The order requires the Office of the National Intelligence Director to conduct regular assessments about potential foreign interference in the elections, asks for reports by the Homeland Security and Justice departments in the case of meddling in campaign-related infrastructure, he said.
Coats said the new executive order is a response to Russia's actions in the 2016 election and "to make sure that doesn't happen again".
"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran and even North Korea".
While such powers already exist in the White House and US Treasury, Coats said the new order would set up an automatic and formal review, while giving Trump flexibility on what actions to take.
National security adviser John Bolton said a new White House order on election security isn't aimed at any particular country. Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) criticized the measure for not going far enough. The 45-day period is based on when interference is believed to have happened and not specifically tied to Election Day.
"If we are going to actually deter Russian Federation and others from interfering in our elections in the future, we need to spell out strong, clear consequences, without ambiguity", Mr. Warner said.
The administration is ready to work with Congress on a sanctions law, Mr. Bolton said, but the White House wants to move fast.
Both men gave a briefing on Wednesday outlining details of the executive order, which creates a framework to act should election meddling be identified.
"I applaud the attempt to make it harder to evade, to let something fall away and not be countered", Michele Markoff, the State Department's Deputy Coordinator for Cyber, said during a panel discussion in Washington Wednesday.
He said: "This clearly is a process put in place to try and ensure we are doing every possible thing we can to prevent any interference in our election".
Trump has been dogged by accusations that he has not given enough credence to foreign interference in the United States election system, including in the 2016 race he won against Hillary Clinton.
At the same time, outside experts have warned for more than a year that Russian efforts to manipulate US voters through misleading social media postings are likely to have grown more sophisticated and harder to detect.
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