Trump signs order for sanctions against foreigners who meddle in polls

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

But the executive branch, including the President, will have the final say in whether sanctions will be applies.

"Today, I took action to protect the integrity of the United States electoral system by signing an executive order to ensure that we can swiftly identify and punish any foreign interference in our elections".

As The Washington Post first reported in August, the order appears to be an effort to stave off bipartisan legislation that would mandate tough federal action.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the newly-signed order "recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it".

"There has been no evidence of a foreign power altering the outcome or vote tabulation in any United States election", Trump said in a statement, nevertheless adding that "We're going to take strong action to secure our election systems and the process".

"I think his actions speak for themselves", he said. Russian Federation denies meddling and Trump has dismissed the probe as a "witch hunt".

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been attacked by USA lawmakers for not being tough enough against Russian Federation after the US intelligence community concluded that Moscow has influenced the 2016 elections.

The 2018 US midterms are less than two months away and authorities are pre-empting foreign attacks on the elections based on USA intelligence.

That this announcement came first as a leak to U.S. news outlets and then as an announcement from National Security Advisor John Bolton underlines how fraught a subject it is for this particular White House. Instead, he delivered a rambling response, including demands for investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server and his description of Putin's "extremely strong and powerful" denial of meddling.

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"The White House has oversight".

"We felt it was important to demonstrate the president had taken command of this issue".

Bolton said the order is not focused on any particular country, because threats to elections come from many different countries and entities.

A wide variety of additional sanctions could be imposed under certain conditions. He said the order also directs intelligence officials to conduct an assessment after elections to inform the public about what might have occurred.

Amid serious backlash from both sides of the aisle, the Republican president later explained that he "misspoke" and said he had "great confidence" in United States intelligence. Last week, executives from Facebook and Twitter testified before the Senate intelligence committee about Russian interference. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said the move "won't substitute for mandatory sanctions required by law" and shouldn't be used to blunt congressional momentum on the issue.

Coats warned last month that Russian Federation is trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

Coats told reporters Wednesday the intelligence community has seen "signs" of interference attempts from China, Iran and North Korea.

"We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, but as I have said ... it is only a keyboard click away", Mr. Coats said. "That means providing states with the funds they need, and pressing Republicans in Congress to pass legislation - like the Election Security Act - that makes meaningful improvements to our election infrastructure", the three Democrats said. Russian entities have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016, Coats said Wednesday.

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