Trump authorizes sanctions against foreigners who meddle in USA elections

The intelligence agencies will then send their findings to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which will have another 45 days to decide whether the US should impose sanctions on the foreign entities in question.

White House Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian individuals and three companies for allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He cast the White House action as a way to strengthen USA defenses immediately.

It also authorizes sanctions for engaging in covert, fraudulent or deceptive activities, such as distributing disinformation or propaganda, to influence or undermine confidence in US elections.

'We felt it was important to demonstrate the president is taking command of this issue, ' said Trump's national security advisor John Bolton on a call with reporters.

Trump's order comes less than 100 days before American voters head to the polls for the midterm elections, and just two months after Trump was derided by both Democrats and Republicans for declining to press Russian President Vladimir Putin harder on Russia's alleged election meddling, after the pair met in Helsinki.

CBS News confirmed Tuesday that the White House was preparing the executive order.

Bolton said sanctions could be imposed during or after an election, based on the evidence gathered.

The lawmakers said Trump's executive order does not change the need for legislation.

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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would turn over any significant findings of interference to the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security.

There is some frustration among lawmakers that Mr Trump's executive order could undercut congressional efforts to deter any election meddling in the U.S. by foreign powers, according to CBS News.

"Today's announcement by the Administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it", they wrote.

"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.

"While the administration has yet to share the full text, an executive order that inevitably leaves the president broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient", Warner said.

Coats told reporters on Wednesday the intelligence community continues to monitor attempts to influence USA elections, but "we have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016". Those backing the legislation say that under the bill, a nation would know exactly what it would face if caught. Russian entities have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016, Coats said Wednesday.

It is understood that Russian Federation is not mentioned by name in the text, but U.S. officials named that country along with China, North Korea and Iran as most likely to try to sway United States elections.

At the same time, outside experts have warned for more than a year that Russian efforts to manipulate US voters through misleading social media postings are likely to have grown more sophisticated and harder to detect. The 45-day period is based on when interference is believed to have happened and not specifically tied to Election Day.

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