President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing sanctions against any country that interferes with U.S. elections, declaring election meddling efforts a “national emergency.”
The executive order, signed just two months ahead of the November's midterms elections, addresses not only interference with campaign and election infrastructure, but also propaganda efforts.
The order, which is considered a national emergency due to sanctions authority requirements, instructs the Office of National Intelligence and the intelligence community to conduct regular assessments about potential foreign interference in elections.
The process, according to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and White House national security adviser John Bolton, would take a total of 90 days.
Following Election Day, the intelligence community would have 45 days to collect data and assess whether interference had occurred.
At that point, the agencies would pass the findings to the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, where officials would have 45 days to make their assessment based on the intelligence information, and decide whether to pass sanctions on potential actors, countries, or institutions that participated in potential interference.
After the reports are complete, the Treasury and State Departments would decide on the appropriate sanctions to impose on the potential actors or countries. The order, according to administration officials, is broad in terms of who and what can be sanctioned.
“We felt it was important to demonstrate that the president was taking command of this issue,” Bolton told reporters Wednesday.
But Coats stressed that the order was not country specific, noting that there have been a number of occasions where threats to U.S. elections have come from “a number of sources.”
“It’s more than Russia here that we’re looking at,” Coats said. “We have seen signs of not just Russia, but from China, and the capabilities potentially from Iran and even North Korea.”
Bolton and Coats said the 90 day process would be private, and that the public would be notified of decisions when sanctions are announced.
“We have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016, but it’s only a keyboard click away,” Coats said. “So we’re taking nothing for granted—we’re putting a process in place, and significantly improved our ability to warn officials as to what we see and what steps we can take prior to the election, in addition to what we will be doing after.”
The executive order comes after the intelligence community and several congressional committees determined that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
Fox News' Kristin Brown and Jennifer Bowman contributed to this report.