U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order calling for sanctions against foreign citizens, entities or governments found to have interfered in U.S. elections.
Administration officials said the executive order sets up a framework for assessing interference, reporting it to the president and punishing it with sanctions.
National Security Adviser, John Bolton, said the executive order includes measures to prevent foreign interference as well as reporting and punishing it.
The order gives the government 45 days after an election to assess whether there has been any outside influence, and then another 45 days to assess whether sanctions can be imposed.
The order also is aimed at deterring the kind of election influence allegedly carried out by Russia in the 2016 presidential election, when U.S. intelligence services claim Russian entities spread disinformation in efforts to influence the balloting.
The executive order comes six weeks after Bolton and other administration officials warned that Russia and other governments continue to seek to influence U.S. elections, including upcoming mid-terms in November.
Bolton and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said the signing of the executive order on a conference call.
Coats said U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies were looking broadly for evidence of interference.
“It’s more than Russia here that we are looking at,” Coats said, noting that there have been signs of election interference coming from China, Iran and North Korea.
“We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, but it’s only a keyboard click away.”