President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday allowing for a broad range of sanctions to be imposed against any entity that attempts to interfere with US elections, with perceived potential threats coming not only from Russian Federation but also China, Iran and North Korea, Trump administration officials said.
The executive order instructs U.S. intelligence agencies to determine if there are attempts afoot to influence the legislative elections, as occurred during the 2016 presidential vote, and establishes a mechanism for imposing sanctions if interference in any future United States election is detected, Efe reported. And after each election, the intelligence community will have 45 days to investigate whether there was an attempt at interference, followed by a Justice Department review.
The order also is aimed at deterring the kind of election influence allegedly carried out by Russia in the 2016 presidential election, when USA intelligence services claim Russian entities spread disinformation in efforts to influence the balloting.
While the intelligence community keeps a close tab on any global interference before the elections, after the elections, the executive order directs the intelligence agencies to assess whether or not whether or not there has been any individual entity, country that has authorised, directed sponsored or otherwise supported an interference in the U.S. election, Coats said.
"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran and even North Korea".
"We haven't seen the intensity of what happened in 2016".
After the reports are complete, the Treasury and State Departments would decide on appropriate sanctions to impose on the potential actors or countries.
But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Republican Richard Burr expressed hope the new executive order will "send a clear message" to Russia, Iran and others. "I think his actions speak for themselves".
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"Today's announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it".
John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, said the action showed that Mr Trump has "taken command of the issue" of election meddling, adding: "It is something he cares deeply about".
"If we are going to actually deter Russian Federation and others from interfering in our elections in the future, we need to spell out strong, clear consequences, without ambiguity", Warner added.
A person familiar with the process told The Hill that the White House had been in touch with Rubio's office in the days before the order was signed, and that administration officials told the senator's aides that the bipartisan legislation had influenced the language in the order.
The order comes two months before Americans go to the polls in elections that will determine control of Congress, potentially dramatically reshaping the balance of power in Washington.
He said: "This clearly is a process put in place to try and ensure we are doing every possible thing we can to prevent any interference in our election". The 45-day period is based on when interference is believed to have happened and not specifically tied to Election Day.
While not strictly specified, the order more than likely targets Russian Federation.
The outgoing administration of Barack Obama hit Moscow with sanctions and expelled a large number of alleged Russian spies in retaliation.