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Trump signs executive order to impose sanctions against any election interference

Trump signs executive order to impose sanctions against any election interference

WASHINGTON-In a call with journalists today, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates outlined an executive order just signed by President Donald Trump that would result in automatic sanctions against any foreign entities found to have attempted to interfere in United States elections.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, the current national security advisor John Bolton said that the executive order, which comes shortly before the midterms "is meant to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation of the political process".

"We felt it was important to show the president has taken command of this issue, that it is something he cares deeply about, that the integrity of our elections [and] our constitutional process are a top priority", said Mr. Bolton, who briefed reporters on the executive order.

Bolton was joined on the call by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who outlined how the process of identifying interference and then imposing sanctions will work.

"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.

"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, but then to do a full assessment after the election to assure the American people just exactly what may have happened or may not have happened", Coats said.

The two intelligence officials insisted that the timing of the executive order has nothing to do with the criticism that followed the President's remarks at the Helsinki Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin back in July. Some bills would take the president out of the process for automatic sanctions and include more penalties on Russian Federation.

"I don't know that it will be a complete solution", he said.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded a year ago that "bots" and phony social media accounts spread propaganda and sensational stories to influence the 2016 campaign.

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".

Sources told CBS News Tuesday the executive order does not mention Russian Federation by name.

Automatic sanctions should act as a deterrent, he said, although he added a major caveat.

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He described the White House response as broad, including assessments by intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic arms of the government.

That this announcement came first as a leak to United States news outlets and then as an announcement from National Security Advisor John Bolton underlines how fraught a subject it is for this particular White House.

Under the order, intelligence agencies, led by the director of national intelligence, would assess attacks and forward findings to the Justice and Homeland Security departments.

The order sets up a 90-day time frame for assessing reports of any kind of interference by foreign individuals and companies, and then deciding on the appropriate sanctions, which include freezing assets, banning business dealings with Americans and locking the actors out of the U.S. financial system. He called it a necessary response to Russia's "hostile acts against America's democratic system that were created to cause division and discord within our nation".

Both Republicans and Democrats criticized the move as insufficient, however.

But the order received a lukewarm reception from bipartisan lawmakers pushing for a new sanctions law.

"Today's announcement by the Administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", they argued.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said in a joint statement. The White House publicized last moth that the National Security Council examined the issue twice with Trump presiding. "We must make sure Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy".

"The July Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin has a visual effect that is searing and long lasting", said Laura Galante, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who has previously worked with the USA government.

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.

"I would veto that bill in order to protect presidential power". Coats asserted that the administration had always been working on the issue of election security.

Coates said that the administration acknowledges that there was interference in the 2016 election, and "we've learned our lessons".


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