Trump Signs Order to Strengthen Election Security By Enabling Sanctions

Yahoo News

Yahoo News

The order, Bolton said, will "protect the United States from foreign interference in our elections and really our political process more broadly".

Sanctions such as freezing assets, restricting foreign exchange transactions and blocking access to US financial institutions will be triggered by incursions on election systems, political parties and candidates, or for circulating propaganda, said National Security Adviser John R. Bolton.

Trump has also said he accepts the strong consensus view of USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation did interfere, including through propaganda and falsehoods spread on social media.

Bolton and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said the signing of the executive order on a conference call. The intelligence officials saying that they have also seen interference activity out of China, Iran, and North Korea.

The move comes amidst increasing realisation in the United States that the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.

The executive action came less than two months before the November 6 midterm elections, and two years after US authorities say Russian Federation meddled in the presidential race won by Trump.

Congress passed a financial sanctions bill against the Kremlin over a year ago and since January 2017, over 200 individuals and companies with connections to Russian Federation have been subjected to its penalties.

"The executive order is not country-specific", Bolton said.

"You never know how long legislation is going to take", he answered. "The president has acted decisively today". "So their idea was, 'Well, if we can get Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to sign on to a bipartisan statement, that might cushion the White House from any attacks made by Trump that Obama was trying to tilt the election in favor of Hillary Clinton'".


U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from Bedminster, New Jersey, to Washington, U.S., August 19, 2018.

Mr. Trump later said he misspoke and vouched for intelligence agencies' findings.

"I think his actions speak for themselves", Bolton said.

The executive order was also panned by some lawmakers at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Russian interference Tuesday afternoon. Sen.

The White House declined to comment.

The executive order applies to anyone who authorizes, directs or sponsors such meddling.

Coats and Bolton said the president's action was not aimed at short-circuiting congressional action. It would then turn over a report to officials in the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, who would then make their own determination. The State and Treasury departments would decide on additional sanctions to recommend and impose. He called it a necessary response to Russia's "hostile acts against America's democratic system that were created to cause division and discord within our nation". But then to do a full assessment after the election to ensure the American people are told exactly of what may have happened or may not have happened.

The harshest sanctions outlined in the order would be up to the president's discretion.

They said Trump's order recognizes the threat, but doesn't go far enough. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said in a joint statement.

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