06:10 GMT +323 January 2020
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    The president intends to sign an executive order that would punish any foreign nationals and companies caught meddling in the November midterm elections with sanctions, a Reuters report says.

    US President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order that would impose sanctions on individuals or organizations found meddling with the upcoming midterm November elections, a Reuters report say, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The decision to enact sanctions would be based on US intelligence service findings, the sources say.

    Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in US elections either through cyberattacks or other means, an unnamed US official told Reuters.

    "The administration is keen to set a new norm in cyberspace," the official said. "This is a first step in stating boundaries and publicly announcing our response for bad behavior."

    The announcement comes as US law enforcement, military and intelligence services step up their efforts to defend the upcoming elections from foreign interference. Curiously, the president's plans, if the quoted sources are reliable, come despite Trump's repeated denial of alleged Russian meddling in 2016 elections and constant criticism of special counsellor Robert Mueller and his probe into such allegations.

    According to the text of the document, any intelligence service, including the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department, that discovers information about possible election meddling will be obliged to forward that information to the Director of National Intelligence

    Interestingly, according to the source, the document would define "election meddling" as either direct hacking attempts on US "election infrastructure," as well as attempts to "sway public opinion through coordinated digital propaganda" or "systematic leaks of private political information."

    The sources also say the White House purposefully left Congress out of work on the executive order, because it wants to "preempt" any legislation on similar issues that the lawmakers may be considering at the moment.

    Democrats and even some Republicans continue to criticize Trump for what they call a "weak stance" toward Russia over allegations it interfered in the 2016 presidential elections; the late Senator John McCain was one of the most vocal critics of the incumbent president — especially so after the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin which took place earlier in July.


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    Executive Order, elections, sanctions, White House, Donald Trump, United States
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