Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Trump OKs sanctions on countries that interfere in USA elections

Putin denies Russia interfered in US elections Trump to issue order allowing sanctions on foreigners meddling in U.S. elections
Pablo Mccormick | 15 September, 2018, 01:21

President Donald Trump is signing an executive order authorizing sanctions against foreigners who meddle in USA elections.

"As I have made clear, the United States will not tolerate any form of foreign meddling in our elections".

National Security Adviser John Bolton and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told reporters Wednesday that the executive order is evidence the president is making election security a priority.

But the executive order, which coincided with heightened alerts about potential attacks on the November 6 elections, didn't satisfy critics who don't trust Mr. Trump to punish Russian hackers.

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.

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Congress already passed a Russian Federation sanctions bill past year, in one of Washington's most aggressive moves to punish Moscow.

Coats and Bolton said the president's action was not aimed at short-circuiting congressional action.

He said the intelligence community has been working on this for a while, but the executive order puts into place a formal process to ensure the administration is doing everything it possibly can to prevent foreign interference.

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'.

Rogers also sought to correct previous media reports that Trump had told him to publicly state that there was no collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.

Bolton said over the last two weeks, he and Coats have spoken to over two dozen members of Congress to discuss possible ideas but said he believes the executive order is an "important step for the president to take as leader of the executive branch".

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The threatened sanctions are notable because they aim not just at foreign companies and individuals seeking to disrupt U.S. electoral infrastructure - electoral databases, vote tabulation processes and the like - but also of propaganda campaigns and leaks of sensitive political information.

The 2018 USA midterms are less than two months away and authorities are pre-empting foreign attacks on the elections based on US intelligence.

"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. "We're taking nothing for granted here". It also authorizes sanctions for engaging in covert, fraudulent or deceptive activities, such as distributing disinformation or propaganda, to influence or undermine confidence in USA elections.

The Departments of State and Treasury would decide on appropriate sanctions to recommend and impose, US national security adviser John Bolton told reporters on a conference call.

The sanctions would automatically be triggered against a foreign government if they are found to have interfered or influenced elections.

Trump has also said he accepts the strong consensus view of US intelligence agencies that Russian Federation did interfere, including through propaganda and falsehoods spread on social media. One bill that has broad support, crafted by Sens. "Today's announcement by the administration recognises the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", said Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen in a joint statement, advocating legislation. Acting on the law, the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against 24 Russians, striking at allies of Putin.

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