WASHINGTON-In a call with journalists today, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates outlined an executive order just signed by President Donald Trump that would result in automatic sanctions against any foreign entities found to have attempted to interfere in United States elections.
Trump has previously faced criticism for not being tough enough against Russian Federation after the US intelligence community concluded that Moscow had influenced the 2016 presidential election, and the new measure could be an attempt to show a sign of force ahead of the upcoming midterms.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters on Wednesday that the United States is not now seeing a Russian interference campaign, but warned that "it's only a keyboard click away".
Bolton says the executive order will work to stem disinformation campaigns or any attempt to manipulate the outcome of ballots.
Coats warned last month that Russian efforts to undermine USA elections continue. US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters after McCain Obama readies fall campaign push, but some Dems say no thanks MORE (D-Md.) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act earlier this year, which would penalize Russian Federation or other foreign governments that try to interfere in USA elections.
The order calls for sanctioning any individual, company or country that interferes with campaign infrastructure, such as voter registration databases, voting machines and equipment used for tabulating or transmitting results.
'This clearly is a process put in place to try to assure that we are doing every possible thing we can to first of all prevent any interference in our election, ' said Coats.
Trump signed the order behind closed doors with no reporters present, a rare departure from what has been his standard practice.
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who is vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said, "Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters".More news: Leaks suggest incoming iPhone Xc, iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Plus
But aides have said that Trump's anger at what he views as a questioning of his surprise election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton colors his view of the threat to future elections, and slowed down the administration's planning for this year's congressional election. Apple creating portal for police data requests Trump to order sanctions on foreign companies that meddle in U.S. elections: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance - Hurricane Florence a new test for Trump team MORE said.
Lawmakers said the executive order, which would give the president decision-making power on imposing sanctions, was insufficient.
Trump has also said he accepts the strong consensus view of USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation did interfere, including through propaganda and falsehoods spread on social media.
"While the administration has yet to share the full text, an executive order that inevitably leaves the president broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient", Warner said.
"President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today". "And if we don't do something, they (the Russians) are not going to stop".
At the same time, outside experts have warned for more than a year that Russian efforts to manipulate US voters through misleading social media postings are likely to have grown more sophisticated and harder to detect.
"I don't see any reason why it would be Russian Federation".
Lawmakers and independent analysts say that federal and state action has already made USA voting systems more secure against foreign hackers.