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Trump issues new order authorizing additional sanctions for interfering in upcoming U.S. elections

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/09/2018 Anne Gearan, Felicia Sonmez

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) © AP FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Trump issued a new order Wednesday authorizing additional sanctions against countries or individuals for interfering in upcoming U.S. elections, but lawmakers of both parties immediately said the effort does not go far enough.

The order would allow Trump to sanction foreigners who interfere in the Midterm elections to be held in less than two months. The order covers overt efforts to meddle in election infrastructure, such as vote counts, as well as “propaganda” and other efforts to influence voting from abroad, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told reporters.

The harshest sanctions outlined in the order would be up to the president’s discretion.

As The Washington Post first reported in August, the order appears to be an effort to stave off bipartisan legislation that would mandate tough federal action.

National security adviser John Bolton said criticism that Trump had been too deferential to Russia or blinkered in his view of Russian election interference played “zero” role in the new action.

Trump has repeatedly said he wants to combat foreign interference, Bolton said, and the United States has already sanctioned Russian individuals and entities.

“I think his actions speak for themselves,” Bolton said.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) immediately issued a joint statement calling the White House effort insufficient and calling on Congress to pass tougher legislation now.

“Today’s announcement by the Administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it,” they wrote. “The United States can and must do more,” such as the mandatory sanctions attached to legislation they proposed, the senators wrote.

“We must make sure Vladimir Putin’s Russia, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy.”

anne.gearan@washpost.com

Related slideshow: 18 things to know about US President Donald Trump (provided by photo services)

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