Trump extends national emergency on foreign election interference

Trump extends national emergency on foreign election interference

President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 ClintonJill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Club for Growth goes after Cheney in ad, compares her to Clinton Sanders to campaign for Turner in Ohio 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 McConnellS.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Business groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.) has blocked election security bills from reaching the Senate floor for a vote, accusing Democrats of attempting to pass “partisan legislation.”