Trump Files Sanctions Order To Fight Election Interference

Trump Files Sanctions Order To Fight Election Interference

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that would allow his administration to target individuals or nations who seek to interfere in US elections, sending a signal to Russian Federation and others following efforts to meddle in his own election.

Justice and Homeland Security would have 45 days to make a determination and notify the president to trigger the sanctions.

Sanctions could include freezing assets, restricting foreign exchange transactions, limiting access to USA financial institutions, and prohibiting U.S. citizens from investing in companies involved, said White House national security adviser John Bolton.

The order described by a United States official familiar with its drafting as "another tool in the tool kit" to deter election interference by foreign adversaries, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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.

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.

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

"Today's announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a joint statement Wednesday.

"The United States can and must do more", they said.

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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters on a call organized by the White House that the ongoing threat is 'only a keyboard click away'.

The administration has also leveled sanctions against Russian Federation on numerous occasions as punishment for the Sergei Skripal nerve agent attack, interference in the 2016 election and other "malign" activity.

In his first public comments since he retired in June, Rogers said: "That should concern us as citizens". It also describes a process for the Treasury and State departments to recommend appropriate, automatic sanctions.

"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, and capabilities potentially from Iran, and even North Korea", attempting to interfere so far this year, he said.

The administration is ready to work with Congress on a sanctions law, Mr. Bolton said, but the White House wants to move fast. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught.

"I think his actions speak for themselves", he said.

Congress passed a financial sanctions bill against the Kremlin over a year ago and since January 2017, over 200 individuals and companies with connections to Russian Federation have been subjected to its penalties. USA lawmakers have introduced various pieces of Russia-related legislation urging punishments for election meddling.

With "lessons learned" from the 2016 presidential election, Coats emphasized that the administration and intelligence community's focus moving forward would be on the upcoming midterms and the 2020 presidential election.

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