Trump authorizes new sanctions against foreigners who meddle in United States elections

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday meant to punish foreign entities for interfering in U.S. elections, an attempt to demonstrate muscle on an issue he's been accused of downplaying.

The order defines election interference in broad terms, going beyond direct hacking into election systems to include influence operations on social media-such as distribution of propaganda and disinformation-and the release of hacked political documents.

Bolton said under the order, the intelligence community would have 45 days to determine whether there was meddling in the election.

The President has received harsh criticism from the Democratic opposition and from many Republicans for the skepticism with which he has treated the conclusions of the intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential vote with the aim of helping him win, and for his praise of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

There is some frustration among lawmakers that Mr Trump's executive order could undercut congressional efforts to deter any election meddling in the USA by foreign powers, according to CBS News.

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.

But he said: 'We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, ' when the USA intelligence community determined there was a Russian-backed effort. US officials have also identified China, Iran and North Korea as potential threats.

"We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, but it's only a keyboard click away".

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Wednesday that now, Trump had "acted decisively" on the issue.

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The order sets up a 90-day time frame for assessing reports of any kind of interference by foreign individuals and companies, and then deciding on the appropriate sanctions, which include freezing assets, banning business dealings with Americans and locking the actors out of the United States financial system.

"The new executive order certainly does not absolve the Senate from passing much-needed legislation and funding to beef up our election security and prevent future attacks on our democracy from foreign adversaries", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

"Today's announcement by the administration recognizes the threat but does not go far enough to address it", Sen.

Both lawmakers previously proposed legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on those who interfere in US elections, rather than directing various departments and agencies to go through a months-long process.

Fifty-five days before the November 6 midterm congressional elections, officials said they have are seeing some attempts to meddle, from Russia, China and other countries.

"The United States can and must do more", they said.

During the briefing, Bolton was asked why Trump opted for an executive order instead of working with Congress. If the United States determines that any foreign meddling has occurred, the executive order ensures a quick, forceful, and proportionate response, he said. He just said it's not Russian Federation. Russian entities have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016, Coats said 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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