Trump orders use of sanctions to punish election interference

President Donald Trump talks about Hurricane Florence following a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Tuesday Sept. 11 2018

Trump to issue order allowing sanctions on foreigners meddling in U.S. elections

On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order authorizing sanctions on any country that meddles in elections here in the United States.

Congress is also considering several pieces of legislation that would punish foreign countries for interfering in USA elections. "As I have made clear, the United States will not tolerate any form of foreign meddling in our elections", Trump said in a statement after he signed the executive order.

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 order sets up a high-level process for the US intelligence community and other law enforcement officials to investigate and evaluate possible election meddling.

"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran, and even North Korea", U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters Wednesday. The State and Treasury departments would decide on additional sanctions to recommend and impose.

It directs the US intelligence community to determine if there has been any individual, company, or country that has interfered in a USA election.

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The entire process, from detection to imposing sanctions, could take up to 90 days - including two 45-day assessment periods within the intelligence community and the broader administration.

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.

The sanctions would block USA financial activities by those implicated in the election interference and those individuals would be prohibited from entering this country.

"My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, and said they think it's Russia", Trump said. When asked how much the Helsinki press conference played into the administration's decision to create this executive order, Bolton gave a definitive "zero" in response and added that the President's actions on election integrity "speak for themselves". He said he was in talks with lawmakers about possible legislation.

Mr. Bolton said the president made clear his support for USA spy agencies, imposed sanctions on Russian Federation and took other actions such as the executive order. "Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin when it matters", said Warner, who is sponsoring the bill.

"So we're looking forward, using the basis of 2016 as a warning signal, and putting pieces in place so it doesn't happen again". Trump did not directly answer the question.

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More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.


That drew outrage from both Republican and Democrats.

The forceful rhetoric stands in sharp contrast to Trump's own statements about Russia's efforts to undermine American democracy. He has cited U.S. sanctions and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US. Russian Federation denies meddling and Trump has dismissed the probe as a "witch hunt".

"I thought there was an opportunity there that I wish we would have taken advantage of", the retired rear admiral told a think tank in Virginia. Sir, this is not about politics, it's not about parties.

In his first public comments since he retired in June, Rogers said: "That should concern us as citizens". Russian entities have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016, Coats said Wednesday.

"I have never had a discussion on collusion", with Trump or members of his senior staff, Rogers said.

National Security Adviser John Bolton also said the oversight bodies would "calibrate what sanctions will be, based on the interference".

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"The Russians are still at it".

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