Trump signs order on United States election meddling

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The order, however, will apply beyond just Russian Federation to other foreign entities that are seeking to influence 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.

The sanctions would target not just foreign meddling in physical election infrastructure, but propaganda and other tactics, following efforts by a Kremlin-backed outfit use Facebook and other social media to try to create divisions and affect public opinion.

The order will put a range of agencies in charge of deciding if meddling occurred, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and including the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department, the sources said. It also lays out how the Treasury and State departments will recommend what sanctions to impose.

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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.

Bolton and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said the signing of the executive order on a conference call. The order gives the administration broad authority to the government to sanction any foreign entity suspected of interfering in USA elections. Bolton noted that the scope of the order included not just attacks on election infrastructure but also "the distribution of propaganda" meant to impact the electoral process.

"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 more broadly", Bolton said.

Lawmakers and independent analysts say that federal and state action has already made USA voting systems more secure against foreign hackers.

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Administration officials said the executive order sets up a framework for assessing interference, reporting it to the president and punishing it with sanctions. Instead, he seemed to accept Putin's denials that Moscow sought to influence the presidential contest. "We haven't seen the intensity of what happened in 2016".

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.

Most American intelligence agencies have determined Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential contest in Trump's favor, and top officials have warned foreign actors continue to work toward affecting the outcomes of future U.S. contests.

The sanctions themselves range from blocked assets, export licenses, access to banking and lending, credit transfers, or USA investors, according to Bolton. Trump dismisses the investigations as a political witch hunt.

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"I thought there was an opportunity there that I wish we would have taken advantage of", the retired rear admiral told a think tank in Virginia. Sir, this is not about politics, it's not about parties.