U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order calling for sanctions against foreign citizens, entities or governments found to have interfered in U.S. elections.
Fox News political commentator Marie Harf and X Strategies Communication Vice President Madison Gesiotto discuss the strength of the US economy and how it will affect the midterm elections. With the current climate focused on Russian interference, Bolton was quick to clarify that the executive order is "not country-specific" and that Trump "cares deeply about it".
Bolton said that the executive order, entitled "Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election", would "protect the USA against interference in our elections and the political process more broadly".
Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in USA elections by cyber attacks or other means, a US official told Reuters.
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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.
The two intelligence officials insisted that the timing of the executive order has nothing to do with the criticism that followed the President's remarks at the Helsinki Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin back in July. White House Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian individuals and three companies for allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential election. However, Bolton said the administration wanted to immediately address and create a mechanism for election security that would be quicker than legislation having to pass Congress. The order requires the Office of the National Intelligence Director to conduct regular assessments about potential foreign interference in the elections, asks for reports by the Homeland Security and Justice departments in the case of meddling in campaign-related infrastructure, he said.
Bolton was joined on the call by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who outlined how the process of identifying interference and then imposing sanctions will work.
"I think his actions speak for themselves", Bolton said.
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The order would direct intelligence agencies to assess whether any people or entities interfered. While Coates said that "we have not seen the intensity of activity from 2016", the intelligence community has seen signs that there are efforts underway by a number of actors to manipulate the political process this year.
Intelligence agencies would have 45 days to make an assessment.
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. He said he was in talks with lawmakers about possible legislation.
"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.
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The executive order comes six weeks after Bolton and other administration officials warned that Russian Federation and other governments continue to seek to influence USA elections, including upcoming mid-terms in November.