Trump orders use of sanctions to punish election interference

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will slap sanctions on foreign companies or people who interfere in U.S. elections.

"We think. that this is an important step for the president to take as the leader of the executive branch, but we're perfectly prepared to speak with members of Congress who have proposed legislation", he said.

Sanctions authorized in the executive order include blocking of assets, transfer of property, United States investment in sanctioned companies, and restriction of travel.

The order calls for sanctioning any individual, company or country that interferes with campaign infrastructure, such as voter registration databases, voting machines and equipment used for tabulating or transmitting results.

The sanctions will target anyone attacking election infrastructure or distributing propaganda or misinformation, national security adviser John Bolton claimed. It also describes a process for the Treasury and State departments to recommend appropriate, automatic sanctions.

USA intelligence officials have found that in the campaign leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, Russian hackers breached the Democratic National Committee and leaked confidential information. "We have several that we are tracking", he explained, "and have seen signs, from not just Russian Federation, but China, Iran, and North Korea".

Coats said Trump's order directs intelligence agencies to conduct an assessment within 45 days after an election to report any meddling to the attorney general and Department of Homeland Security.

Under the order, the intelligence community would have 45 days to determine whether meddling occurred.

'This clearly is a process put in place to try to assure that we are doing every possible thing we can to first of all prevent any interference in our election, ' said Coats.

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"Today's announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", Van Hollen and Rubio said.

Trump signed the order just two months before the midterms.

The White House imposed a number of new sanctions against Russia in March for election interference, and the Justice Department filed indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers in July. 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".

"Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters", Warner said. Instead, he delivered a rambling response, including demands for investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server and his description of Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denial of meddling.

That drew outrage from both Republican and Democrats.

Most American intelligence agencies have determined Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential contest in Trump's favor, and top officials have warned foreign actors continue to work toward affecting the outcomes of future United States contests.

At the same time, outside experts have warned for more than a year that Russian efforts to manipulate USA voters through misleading social media postings are likely to have grown more sophisticated and harder to detect. Russian Federation denies meddling and Trump has dismissed the probe as a "witch hunt".

In response, he recalled, Trump would say, "Mike, you know I'm in a different place".

"I thought there was an opportunity there that I wish we would have taken advantage of", Rogers said at an event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on the relationship between the presidency and the intelligence community. Sir, this is not about politics, it's not about parties.

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