Trump signs order to allow sanctions for U.S. election meddling

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2018

Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a decree authorizing sanctions for countries that attempt to influence the November mid-term elections, while his administration denounced possible attempts to do so from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

The sanctions authority would be the latest effort by the Trump administration to address to concerns raised by USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation is seeking to interfere in the 2018 US elections after doing so two years ago. The finding would then be passed to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, who would then make a determination within 45 days whether the interference took place and warranted sanctions.

The executive order also requires any federal agency aware of election meddling to promptly report that data to the office of the director of national intelligence.

The sanctions could include blocking the assets of the individuals and entities within the USA jurisdiction, prohibiting US individuals and entities from engaging in transactions with or investing in the entities involved.

The executive order could blunt momentum in Congress for legislation that would impose harsher and more direct penalties on Russian Federation for any future election meddling. It will impose sanctions on any foreign entities found trying to meddle in US elections, and would be "another tool in the tool kit" to protect the USA election system, an administration official told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

USA intelligence agencies concluded that entities backed by the Kremlin sought to boost Republican Trump's chances of winning the White House in the 2016 election against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Mike Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency, said he thought Trump missed an opportunity in Helsinki to publicly scold Russian Federation for meddling.

During a press conference with the Russian leader, Trump undermined the United States intelligence community's universal conclusion that Russia had made attempts to attack the 2016 USA presidential election, through digital interference and other methods.

"The United States can and must do more", they said.

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

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, said have put forward the DETER Act, which would set mandatory sanctions on anyone involved in election interference.

"If we see something has happened, there will be an automatic response to that", he said. "We have several that we are tracking", he explained, "and have seen signs, from not just Russian Federation, but China, Iran, and North Korea". "I think his actions speak for themselves".

The order, not yet released, is meant as a deterrent against interference in the 2018 midterm elections. 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. He cast the White House action as a way to strengthen USA defenses immediately. That legislation is focused against Russian Federation, as compared with the more ecumenical order announced by the White House.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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