Trump to target foreign meddling in U.S. elections with sanctions order

Putin denies Russia interfered in US elections

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to help protect the United States from foreign interference in domestic elections by laying out a process for putting sanctions on countries and other actors who seek to meddle.

It covers overt efforts to meddle in election infrastructure, such as vote counts, as well as "propaganda" and other attempts to influence voting from overseas, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told reporters.

Coates explained that the process outlined by the order called for a 45-day period within which the intelligence community was to assess whether election interference had occurred and who the actors behind that interference were.

Trump has previously faced criticism for not being tough enough against Russian Federation after the US intelligence community concluded that Moscow had influenced the 2016 presidential election, and the new measure could be an attempt to show a sign of force ahead of the upcoming midterms. Apple creating portal for police data requests Trump to order sanctions on foreign companies that meddle in U.S. elections: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance - Hurricane Florence a new test for Trump team MORE said.

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". Coats also highlighted potential meddling from China, Iran and North Korea.

"In regards to Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States", Coats said in August.

Bolton said that the U.S. considers interference to be not only attacks on election infrastructure but also the distribution of propaganda and disinformation.

The executive order could blunt momentum in Congress for legislation that would impose harsher and more direct penalties on Russian Federation for any future election meddling. He has cited United States sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US.

Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen, who have proposed legislation to attack foreign election interference, said Wednesday that Trump's action was too restrained.

"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", Warner said.

It will impose sanctions on any foreign entities found trying to meddle in USA elections, and would be "another tool in the tool kit" to protect the US election system, an administration official told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

USA intelligence officials have found that in the campaign leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Russian hackers breached the Democratic National Committee and leaked confidential information.

The U.S. attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security will then have 45 days to review those findings.

However in a conference call, Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence identified Russia, China, Iran and N Korea having capabilities to do so. That legislation is focused against Russian Federation, as compared with the more ecumenical order announced by the White House.

The move appears created to be a shot across the bows of hostile countries, warning them off attempting to influence the midterm elections which are now just eight weeks away. Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught.

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