Trump orders use of sanctions to punish election interference

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Donald Trump has signed an executive order allowing for sanctions over election meddling amid fears Russia, China, Iran and North Korea could target the November midterms.

Mr. Bolton said the president made clear his support for US spy agencies, imposed sanctions on Russian Federation and took other actions such as the executive order.

Within 45 days after any U.S. 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.

And after a closed-door meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, Trump said he believed Putin when he denied that Russia did not try to sway the 2016 election, despite the US intelligence community's public findings implicating the Kremlin.

Trump's executive order declares that a "national emergency" exists linked to possible foreign interference in the U.S. elections, a declaration that creates a legal basis for the future imposition of sanctions linked to that issue.

As per news reports, the order would put the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in charge of determining whether meddling has taken place.

USA 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.

He named Russia, China, North Korea and Iran as countries who could have the capability to interfere in the November midterms and were being monitored by USA intelligence.

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 2, 2018.

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The State and Treasury departments will then be the ones to decide on the appropriate sanctions to recommend and impose, Bolton said.

The executive order comes as bills in the House and Senate have gained support that would require sanctions against any government or person determined to have engaged in electoral interference.

"Basically it's a further effort among several that the administration has made to protect the United States against foreign interference in our elections, and really our political process more broadly", Bolton said. "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".

"My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, and said they think it's Russia", Trump said.

"We remain woefully underprepared to secure the upcoming elections, and an executive order is simply no substitute for congressional action".

The order will help ensure the administration is "doing every possible thing we can" to prevent and assess election meddling, Coats said.

In a statement the Democratic National Committee said Trump's order "does nothing to hold Russian Federation accountable" for 2016.

"While the President appears to acknowledge that foreign actors will continue to attempt to interfere in our elections, he makes no mention of previous Russian attacks", they alleged. He has cited U.S. sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., are pushing a bill that would prohibit foreign governments from purchasing election ads, using social media to spread false information or disrupting election infrastructure. Russian entities have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016, Coats said Wednesday.