President Trumpsigned an executive order Wednesday imposing sanctions against any election interference, declaring election meddling efforts as a "national emergency".
Sanctions could include freezing assets, restricting foreign exchange transactions, limiting access to US financial institutions, and prohibiting USA citizens from investing in companies involved, national security adviser John Bolton told reporters.
The sanctions would automatically be triggered against a foreign government if they are found to have interfered or influenced elections.
USA intelligence chiefs declared in January 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a concerted effort via hacking and social media manipulation to boost Trump's chances in 2016 to defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
In the order, the president declared a national emergency, an action required under sanctions authority, to deal with the threat of foreign meddling in US elections.
In the works for months, the order will allow the director of National Intelligence, with input from other intelligence agencies, to assess and identify foreign actors responsible for election meddling, and direct the Treasury Department to apply sanctions.
It directs the US intelligence community to determine if there has been any individual, company, or country that has interfered in a USA election.
"We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, of capabilities, potentially from Iran and even North Korea".
Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in USA elections by cyber attacks or other means, a United States official told Reuters. However, Bolton said the administration wanted to immediately address and create a mechanism for election security that would be quicker than legislation having to pass Congress.
The executive order in this regard is likely to be signed by Trump as early as Wednesday. And evidence would not be forthcoming in the event that the White House considers sanctions under this order-the first word of any assessment would come with the sanctions themselves, Bolton told reporters.
"We are doing everything we possibly can, first of all to prevent any interference with our election, and then to do a full assessment after the election", Coats said Wednesday. He just said it's not Russian Federation.
But, they added, "we must make sure Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy". Rather, it is meant to be a preemptive announcement of the planned U.S. retaliation for any cyberattacks or other interference in the November vote.
"I applaud the attempt to make it harder to evade, to let something fall away and not be countered", Michele Markoff, the State Department's Deputy Coordinator for Cyber, said during a panel discussion in Washington Wednesday.
The outgoing administration of Barack Obama hit Moscow with sanctions and expelled a large number of alleged Russian spies in retaliation.
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