Trump authorizes sanctions against foreigners who meddle in United States elections
- Ted Barber
According to reports, President Trump intends to sign an executive order later this week which will order sanctions on all foreign companies or individuals who are judged by the intelligence community to have interfered in the usa midterm elections.
Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., the vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also criticized the executive order, which he said puts too much power in the hands of a president who has previously failed to demand accountability from Russian Federation on the issue.
According to national security adviser John Bolton, the sanctions are aimed at targeting anyone who attacks the election infrastructure or distributes propaganda.
In the order, the president declared a national emergency, an action required under sanctions authority, to deal with the threat of foreign meddling in USA elections. Coats did not tell reporters what evidence, if any, the intelligence community has seen of Russian hacking this year, but mentioned that he had seen "capability and attempts" from Iran, China, and North Korea as well.
"We will combine that effort throughout the agency, and look to assess what has happened", he said adding that the executive order directs them to complete this in 40 days.
The White House has worked to push back against accusations that Trump was not seriously committed to aggressively protecting USA elections from interference, especially after his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July.
Among other things, it would require federal agencies aware of foreign election meddling to relay the information to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Congress passed a Russian Federation sanctions bill more than a year ago.
The administration is ready to work with Congress on a sanctions law, Mr. Bolton said, but the White House wants to move fast.
The issue with waiting on Congress, he explained, is "never knowing how long legislation will take". "The president has acted decisively today".
Coats told reporters on Wednesday the intelligence community continues to monitor attempts to influence USA elections, but "we have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016". He added that "an executive order that inevitably leaves the President broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient". I think Department of Energy has made a clear statement of what his function there is, ' he said when asked by DailyMail.com about the high-level visit, the first since Trump's Helsinki Summit.
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He said the executive order is not country-specific because the threats come from a "number of sources".
"The White House has oversight".
Trump's national security adviser John Bolton denied that harsh reaction to Trump's Helsinki meeting with Putin was partly what spurred the decision to sign the new order. The order would direct intelligence agencies to assess whether any people or entities interfered.
The U.S. attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security will then have 45 days to review those findings. It also lays out how the Treasury and State departments will recommend what sanctions to impose.
Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, applauded the order.
In a statement the Democratic National Committee said Trump's order "does nothing to hold Russian Federation accountable" for 2016. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would mandate tough sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, and defense companies.
The senators prefer their legislation, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, or DETER Act.
If they determine and find anything that reflects an interference with the elections, they then will report that and automatic sanctions will take effect.
"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.
Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in United States elections by cyber attacks or other means, a U.S. official told Reuters. The White House publicized last moth that the National Security Council examined the issue twice with Trump presiding.
"I would veto that bill in order to protect presidential power".
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