White House working on executive order to punish election interference: report

White House working on executive order to punish election interference: report
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The White House is crafting an executive order that would give President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE the authority to sanction foreigners who interfere in U.S. elections, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The news outlet obtained an eight-page draft of the order, which allows the president to impose sanctions on "10 of the 30 largest businesses" in a country whose government has interfered in the U.S. electoral process.

Those penalties would only be imposed mandatorily if foreigners are found to have meddled, the Post reported. Similar sanctions already have been implemented against Russians determined to have interfered in the 2016 election.

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A White House official told The Washington Post that the executive order is subject to change.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

The effort comes as the White House attempts to project a unified response to foreign interference campaigns, even as the president himself has wavered on whether he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and whether it will do so in future elections. 

The president faced fierce bipartisan criticism for days after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. At a joint press conference, Trump refused to condemn Putin and cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump later walked back his comments and expressed confidence in his intelligence officials. However, he undermined those remarks when he quickly returned to calling the special counsel's investigation a "witch hunt," and referred to Russian interference as a "hoax."

At a rally in Ohio last weekend, the president said other countries are trying to interfere in U.S. elections, suggesting that China, Iran and North Korea could be responsible, in addition to Russia.

In an unusual move, the White House last week trotted out five of its top intelligence officials during a press briefing where each individual detailed efforts to blunt foreign election interference.

"The threat is not going away," FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters. "Russia attempted to interfere in the last election and continues to do so to this day."

The Senate, meanwhile, is weighing legislation that would impose tougher sanctions on any country that is found to have interfered in U.S. elections.