With less than 60 days to go before the mid-term elections in the United States, the White House is ordering new tools to ensure election security.
CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order, Wednesday, which allows Washington to sanction individuals or companies that are conclusively linked to attempts to influence American elections-either by hacking into election systems or by spreading propaganda to influence voters. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies that Moscow attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
President Trump did not confront Putin on the allegations when the two met in Helsinki. And yet, the Mueller probe continues to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow putting pressure on the Trump administration to ensure the November elections are free of foreign interference.
Just last month, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats said there’s reason to be concerned.
“The intelligence community continues to be concerned about the threats of upcoming U.S. elections, both the midterms and the presidential elections of 2020. In regards to Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States,” he said at a White House briefing.
Wednesday, Director Coats said Washington is monitoring other countries besides Russia for potential election meddling. He says China, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have the capabilities to do so as well but he provided no evidence of it happening. Coats also said alleged attempts to interfere in this year’s elections are not as “intense” as those the U.S. intelligence community says it observed in 2016.
Why take this action now? Administration officials argue they wanted a policy for responding to foreign interference ahead of the November elections. Lawmakers in both parties were working on legislation to deal with the possibility. And some are expressing skepticism of the White House order.
Top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer issued this statement: “Given what the president did in Helsinki, giving himself the option of levying tough sanctions is hardly reassuring.”
Facebook, Google and Twitter have all announced they’re shutting down hundreds of accounts believed to be tied to election influence campaigns backed by Iran and Russia.