President Trump plans to sign an executive order as soon as Wednesday that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in US elections, based on intelligence agency findings, two sources told Reuters.
New restrictions in the event of a future influence campaign might not mean much to Russian Federation; several of its intelligence bosses, intelligence officers and others already are subject to USA sanctions.
It is understood that Russian Federation is not mentioned by name in the text, but U.S. officials named that country along with China, North Korea and Iran as most likely to try to sway United States elections.
The order would direct intelligence agencies to assess whether any individuals or entities interfered in a U.S. election, turn that information over to the Justice and Homeland Security departments, and then - based on their assessment of the validity and impact of that intelligence - trigger automatic sanctions, said U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. So the others, do incorporate - it's more than Russian Federation here that we're looking at'.
"Obviously we're looking at having evidence that interference has occurred", he said, but added: "The executive order is not country-specific". That's according to sources, who exclusively told Reuters an executive order could be signed by President Donald Trump as early as Wednesday (September 12). 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 covers overt efforts to meddle in election infrastructure, such as vote counts, as well as "propaganda" and other attempts to influence voting from overseas, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told reporters. The 45-day period is based on when interference is believed to have happened and not specifically tied to Election Day.
If DOJ and DHS officials concurred with the director of national intelligence's report, sanctions would "automatically" be leveled against those determined to be behind the interference; the State Department and Department of the Treasury would then review the sanctions and determine whether they were sufficient and appropriate to the severity of the activity.
A special counsel has been investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.
Sanctions could include freezing assets, restricting foreign exchange transactions, limiting access to USA financial institutions, and prohibiting US citizens from investing in companies involved, said White House national security adviser John Bolton. "Our focus is, going forward, that we have the integrity of the election in place and we have the measures in place to deter and retaliate if necessary".