Trump signs order on USA election meddling

Putin denies Russia interfered in US elections

It is also not limited to attacks on campaign infrastructure, but also applies to the spread of propaganda and misinformation.

During a press conference with the Russian leader, Trump undermined the U.S. intelligence community's universal conclusion that Russia had made attempts to attack the 2016 USA presidential election, through digital interference and other methods.

On a conference call with reporters, National Security Advisor John Bolton said this is a multi-agency process put in place to assure that the administration is doing everything possible to prevent any interference ahead of the elections and will provide for full assessment after the election to assure the American people of the integrity of their vote. "We felt it was important to demonstrate the president has taken command of this issue-that it's something he cares deeply about".

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional panels are investigating Russian interference, which Moscow denies.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a "witch hunt".

The 2018 USA midterms are less than two months away and authorities are pre-empting foreign attacks on the elections based on US intelligence.

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal previously reported on earlier drafts of the executive order. Its findings would then be turned over to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security, which would have another 45 days to determine what action to take. If they agree with the assessment, it would trigger automatic sanctions. Possible sanctions include freezing assets, limiting participation in United States financial institutions and barring American citizens from investing in companies involved in election meddling.

The Treasury and State departments also would be advised of the election attack and would be able to impose additional sanctions.

Some former officials also praised the order as a "step in the right direction".

Both Democrats and Republicans are looking to redress what they consider Trump's weak stance on accusations of Russian interference in 2016 when he met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in July. "I think his actions speak for themselves".

Still, Kanuck said the executive order alone is likely not enough.

"You never know how long legislation is going to take", he answered. "I doubt it will completely change the incentive-cost-benefit analysis of the other side".

Administration officials said the executive order sets up a framework for assessing interference, reporting it to the president and punishing it with sanctions.

The order, not yet released, is meant as a deterrent against interference in the 2018 midterm elections.

Amid serious backlash from both sides of the aisle, the Republican president later explained that he "misspoke" and said he had "great confidence" in United States intelligence. However, Bolton said the administration wanted to immediately address and create a mechanism for election security that would be quicker than legislation having to pass Congress.

The order, which comes just weeks ahead of November's midterm elections, will direct USA intelligence agencies to investigate whether the election meddling took place.

"In terms of what the influence is and will be, we continue to analyze all that", Coats added.

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