US President Donald Trump signs an executive order Wednesday authorizing sanctions against foreigners who meddle in US elections, a move that counters critics who claim he is not taking election security seriously enough.
The executive order covers not just interference with campaign infrastructure, but also the distribution of disinformation and propaganda, national security adviser John Bolton tells reporters. The order requires the Office of the National Intelligence Director to conduct regular assessments about potential foreign interference in the elections, and asks for reports by the homeland security and justice departments in the case of meddling in campaign-related infrastructure, he says. It also describes a process for the treasury and state departments to recommend appropriate, automatic sanctions.
“We felt it was important to demonstrate the president has taken command of this issue, that it’s something he cares deeply about — that the integrity of our elections and our constitutional process are a high priority to him,” Bolton says.
With the midterm elections now two months away, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats says the US is not currently seeing the intensity of Russian intervention that was experienced in 2016, but doesn’t rule it out. He says the US is also worried about the cyber activities of China, North Korea and Iran.