Published: Fri, September 14, 2018

Trump signs order on US election meddling

Trump signs order on US election meddling

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday allowing punitive sanctions on foreigners who interfere in USA elections, two years after Russian Federation allegedly meddled in his favour in the presidential campaign.

Sen. Mark R. Warner, Virginia Republican and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the order gave too much discretion to the president.

Bolton said the sanctions would be imposed not just for direct actions, such as hacking into election systems, but also for distribution of propaganda and disinformation. Bolton said sanctions could be imposed during or after an election, based on the evidence gathered.

Robert Mueller, a special counsel, has been looking into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, a claim that has been denied both by Moscow and Trump himself.

Under investigation for his campaign's ties to the Russian government, President Trump has often lashed out at Obama for what he sees as an inherent contradiction. Mueller is also looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

While the Obama administration privately warned Russian Federation to stop interfering on behalf of Trump, Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff says it's fair to criticize Obama for not taking sterner action. But the executive branch, including the President, will have the final say in whether sanctions will be applies.

"Today's announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", Van Hollen and Rubio said.

The order comes with mid-term elections just weeks away.

"I think it's going to be good", said Sean Kanuck, a former intelligence officer for cyber issues, now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

On a conference call with reporters, National Security Advisor John Bolton said this is a multi-agency process put in place to assure that the administration is doing everything possible to prevent any interference ahead of the elections and will provide for full assessment after the election to assure the American people of the integrity of their vote. In making that assessment, the DNI will consult with all of the US' multifarious intelligence agencies.

After the reports are complete, the Treasury and State Departments would decide on appropriate sanctions to impose on the potential actors or countries.

The administration is ready to work with Congress on a sanctions law, Mr. Bolton said, but the White House wants to move fast. "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.

Under the order, intelligence agencies, led by the director of national intelligence, would assess attacks and forward findings to the Justice and Homeland Security departments.

US lawmakers have introduced various pieces of Russia-related legislation, including the "Deter Act", to set out punishments for election meddling, and what one lawmaker called a sanctions bill "from hell" to punish Moscow for cyber crime and its activities in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

"We continue to look at that and will continue to look at that". USA lawmakers have introduced various pieces of Russia-related legislation urging punishments for election meddling. Some bills would take the president out of the process for automatic sanctions and include more penalties on Russian Federation.

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