President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in U.S. elections, based on intelligence agency findings.
Trump’s decision coincides with intelligence agencies, military and law enforcement preparing to defend the Nov. 6 congressional elections from predicted foreign attacks even as Trump derides a special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Sanction targets could include individual people or entire companies accused of interfering in U.S. elections by cyber attacks or other means, a U.S. official said.
“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 order will put a range of agencies in charge of deciding if meddling occurred, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and including the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department, the sources said.
Based on a recent draft of the order reviewed, it will require any federal agency aware of election interference by foreigners to take the information to the office of Director of National Intelligence.
Election interference will be defined in the order as hacking attempts against “election infrastructure,” and efforts to sway public opinion through coordinated digital propaganda or systematic leaks of private political information.
U.S. intelligence officials have found that in the campaign leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Russian hackers breached the Democratic National Committee and leaked confidential information.