President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Sept. 12 directing the government to impose automatic sanctions on foreign entities in retaliation to attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.
National Security Advisor John Bolton and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announced the details of the order shortly before it was made public.
“Basically, it’s a further effort among several that the administration has made to protect the United States against foreign interference in our elections and really our political process.”
U.S. officials say that the intensity of foreign influence is lower this year compared to 2016 when Russia attempted to interfere in the presidential election. But they say that the threat isn’t limited to Moscow. Coats noted that China, Iran, and North Korea have shown the capability to interfere.
The order counts the distribution of propaganda and disinformation as attempts at interference. Russia used both tools in 2016 to sow division among Americans online.
“We’ve learned lessons from this obviously. Our focus now is on the midterms and 2020 going forward,” Coats said. “What do we need to have in place to deal with this, to ensure the American public that their elections have not been manipulated, their vote has not been changed?”
The order gives the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) a 45-day window after an election to assess whether influence attempts took place. Once complete, the ODNI would deliver the assessment to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which would, in turn, have 45 days to make a determination based on the intelligence assessment.
If the DOJ and DHS concur with the intelligence assessment, automatic sanctions would be triggered. The sanctions can be imposed against any individual, entity, or nation who attempted to influence the election.
After the automatic sanctions are enacted, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury would be required to determine if additional sanctions are in order based on the scale and intensity of interference.
From The Epoch Times