Trump extends national emergency on foreign election interference

Trump extends national emergency on foreign election interference

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE on Tuesday issued a notice extending a national emergency declaration over foreign interference in U.S. elections.

In a memo to Congress released by the White House, Trump wrote that foreign efforts to interfere with or undermine public confidence in U.S. elections continue "to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

Trump is extending an emergency declaration that he first issued last September. That declaration, issued through an executive order, also called for an executive branch assessment of foreign threats to U.S. elections and imposed sanctions on individuals involved in such efforts.

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The message issued to Congress on Tuesday states that there has been "no evidence" of a foreign government changing the outcome of any U.S. elections or vote tabulations but notes that foreign powers "have historically sought to exploit America's free and open political system."

It also states that the proliferation of new technology has increased the threat of foreign interference.

“The ability of persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure or the covert distribution of propaganda and disinformation, continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Trump wrote.

He said he would thus extend the national emergency, which was due to expire in the coming days without action.

Trump’s letter does not make mention of specific foreign threats but follows Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, which former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE described as “sweeping and systematic” in his lengthy report released in April.

The president has faced criticism over his response to Russian interference, particularly at times when he has cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s finding that Moscow interfered with the intention of helping him defeat Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic strategist laments 'low bar' for Biden debate performance Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel Trump to hold campaign rally in Pennsylvania next month MORE.

Despite the Russian efforts, neither Mueller nor U.S. officials have said that Russia’s interference had a material impact on the 2016 vote.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions and taken other steps to assess and prevent foreign influence operations. Still, top intelligence officials have warned of continued efforts by Russia to meddle in U.S. political affairs.

“The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate panel in July, adding that Moscow hasn’t been sufficiently deterred by sanctions imposed by the U.S. government.

Trump and his Republican allies have faced pressure from Democrats, who argue they’re not doing enough to guard future U.S. elections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs Trump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Congressional authority in a time of Trump executive overreach MORE (R-Ky.) has blocked election security bills from reaching the Senate floor for a vote, accusing Democrats of attempting to pass “partisan legislation.”