Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump just signed an executive order addressing election interference.
On Wednesday, the President signed the order, which imposes sanctions on any individual, company or country that is found to be interfering with elections in the United States, CNBC reported Wednesday.
The media learned of the announcement from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Adviser John Bolton during a conference call, and also explained some of what the order entails.
On conference call with reporters, National Security Adviser @AmbJohnBolton says Trump has just signed an executive order called “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election.”
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) September 12, 2018
“This is a further effort to protect the United States from foreign interference in our elections and our political process more broadly,” Bolton said. “The president felt very strongly about this, and we talked about this weeks and weeks ago.”
The sanctions apply to entities found to be connected to interference in any way, from directing or sponsoring such activities, and even punishes foreign agents connected to propaganda campaigns.
“We’ve seen not just Russia and China, but capabilities from Iran and even from North Korea,” Coats said. He added that recent election attacks have not seen “the intensity of what happened in 2016,” but noted, “it’s only a keyboard click away.”
The executive order also consists of a National Emergency declaration to address attacks, which outlines a plan of intelligence review by multiple agencies to evaluate the origin of the election interference, as well as the scope of the incident.
The order gives permissions to the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, National Security Agency, and the Homeland Security Department in addressing such election interference. All efforts must first go through the Director of National Intelligence.
After the Russian interference in the 2016 elections were revealed and 12 Russian military officers indicted for the attack, the Trump Administration, along with intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been formulating plans to defend the 2018 elections from foreign interference.
“The administration is keen to set a new norm in cyberspace,” a U.S. official told Reuters in an exclusive report. “This is a first step in stating boundaries and publicly announcing our response for bad behavior.”
Lawmakers are reportedly frustrated by the order, which leaves out Congress in the process.
Legislation such as the Deter Act has been introduced in Congress to punish entities for election meddling. Congress also passed a bill imposing sanctions on Russia, which President Trump signed into law. The law paved way for additional sanctions headed by the U.S. Treasury against 24 Russian entities.