Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a decree authorizing sanctions for countries that attempt to influence the November mid-term elections, while his administration denounced possible attempts to do so from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
Bolton said if there were sufficient evidence of foreign interference, sanctions could come before an election, not just after.
"It's more than Russian Federation here that we are looking at", National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told reporters on a conference call, specifying that U.S. intelligence agencies are concerned about the ability of Iran, North Korea and China to interfere in the election, and threatening an "automatic response to that".
It is understood that Russian Federation is not mentioned by name in the text, but USA officials named that country along with China, North Korea and Iran as most likely to try to sway U.S. elections.
"We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016 [but] it's only a keyboard click away so we are taking nothing for granted", he said.
Trump, who has sought warmer relations with Moscow, has frequently suggested he sides with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies, including during a controversial meeting between the two leaders in Helsinki in July.
Among other things, it would require federal agencies aware of foreign election meddling to relay the information to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
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"If we are going to actually deter Russian Federation and others from interfering in our elections in the future, we need to spell out strong, clear consequences, without ambiguity", Warner said.
The move will ease pressure on Mr Trump to act.
Coats told reporters on Wednesday the intelligence community continues to monitor attempts to influence USA elections, but "we have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016".
"They, within another 45 days, will assess the validity and the impact of the intelligence". He added that "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".
"If we see something, there's going to be an automatic response to that", Coats said.
That this announcement came first as a leak to USA news outlets and then as an announcement from National Security Advisor John Bolton underlines how fraught a subject it is for this particular White House.
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On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats explained how the assessment reports on interference will work.
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.
Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, applauded the order. But then to do a full assessment after the election to ensure the American people are told exactly of what may have happened or may not have happened.
But the order received a lukewarm reception from bipartisan lawmakers pushing for a new sanctions law.
The senators prefer their legislation, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, or DETER Act.
"We felt it was important to demonstrate the president has taken command of this issue, that it's something he cares deeply about", Bolton added.
Coats warned last month that Russian Federation is trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.
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