President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that would allow his administration to target individuals or nations who seek to interfere in USA elections, sending a signal to Russian Federation and others following efforts to meddle in his own election.
'That It's something he cares deeply about that the integrity of our elections and our constitutional process are a high priority to him, ' Bolton said.
National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said the directive was in response to alleged Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans, who accuse the president of taking a weak stance on accusations of Russian interference.
Coats told reporters on Wednesday the intelligence community continues to monitor attempts to influence USA elections, but "we have not seen the intensity of what happened in 2016".
Congress is also considering several pieces of legislation that would punish foreign countries for interfering in US elections.
The sanctions authority would be the latest effort by the Trump administration to address to concerns raised by USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation is seeking to interfere in the 2018 US elections after doing so two years ago.
Congress has been purposefully left out of the executive order drafting process, the official said, because the administration wants to preempt legislation being considered in the House and Senate that addresses similar issues. Bolton noted that the scope of the order included not just attacks on election infrastructure but also "the distribution of propaganda" meant to impact the electoral process.
The order sets up a 90-day time frame for assessing reports of any kind of interference by foreign individuals and companies, and then deciding on the appropriate sanctions, which include freezing assets, banning business dealings with Americans and locking the actors out of the United States financial system.
Sanctions could include freezing assets, restricting foreign exchange transactions, limiting access to US financial institutions, and prohibiting USA citizens from investing in companies involved, said White House national security adviser John Bolton. US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters after McCain Obama readies fall campaign push, but some Dems say no thanks MORE (D-Md.) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act earlier this year, which would penalize Russian Federation or other foreign governments that try to interfere in USA elections.
As The Washington Post first reported in August, the order appears to be an effort to stave off bipartisan legislation that would mandate tough federal action. A similar bill is moving forward in the House.