Trump orders use of sanctions to punish election interference

Trump to issue order allowing sanctions on foreigners meddling in U.S. elections

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order authorising sanctions against any countries or individuals found interfering in US elections. It is also not limited to attacks on campaign infrastructure, but also applies to the spread of propaganda and misinformation.

Coats and other USA intelligence chiefs have said since the beginning of 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a concerted effort via hacking and social media manipulation to boost Trump's chances in 2016 to defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

At a press briefing following the executive order, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the move was "intended to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation" of U.S. politics, USA media reported.

"We felt it was important to demonstrate the president has taken command of this issue, that it's something he cares deeply about", Bolton added.

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

Mike Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency, said he thought Trump missed an opportunity in Helsinki to publicly scold Russian Federation for meddling.

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, said have put forward the DETER Act, which would set mandatory sanctions on anyone involved in election interference. Reuters first reported the existence of the draft executive order. Then the two departments would have 45 days to determine whether action is required, Coats told reporters. If they agree with the assessment, it would trigger automatic sanctions.

A key State Department official praised the executive order as a good start.

Some former officials also praised the order as a "step in the right direction".

Rogers said he would tell Trump: "Mr. President, I understand that, but I'm paid by the citizens of the nation to tell you what we think".

Still, Kanuck said the executive order alone is likely not enough. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught. "I doubt it will completely change the incentive-cost-benefit analysis of the other side".

"Words, and those words in Helsinki, probably speak louder than executive action", she said. The order, according to administration officials, is broad in terms of who and what can be sanctioned.

"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.

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 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.

But he said: 'We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, ' when the USA intelligence community determined there was a Russian-backed effort.

The administration is ready to work with Congress on a sanctions law, Mr. Bolton said, but the White House wants to move fast.

And while some of the proposed legislation focuses on Russian Federation, the officials said it was important to take a broader view.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters on Wednesday that the U.S. is not now seeing a Russian interference campaign, but warned that "it's only a keyboard click away".

"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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