"We felt it was important to demonstrate the president has taken command of this issue, that it's something he cares deeply about", Bolton said.
Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., the vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also criticized the executive order, which he said puts too much power in the hands of a president who has previously failed to demand accountability from Russian Federation on the issue.
The order calls for sanctioning any individual, company or country that interferes with campaign infrastructure, such as voter registration databases, voting machines and equipment used for tabulating or transmitting results.
National Security Adviser John Bolton and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told reporters Wednesday that the executive order is evidence the president is making election security a priority.
Punishments could include the blocking of assets in the United States and the State and Treasury departments could also seek more expansive sanctions, such as curtailing access to US financial institutions.
Coats warned last month that Russian efforts to undermine US elections continue.
"We have seen signs of [meddling from] not just Russian Federation, but from China ... from Iran and even North Korea", he said.
Under the order, the intelligence community would have 45 days to determine whether meddling occurred.
"This clearly is a process put in place to try to assure that we are doing every possible thing we can, first of all, to prevent any interference with our elections, to report on anything we see between now and the election, but then to do a full assessment after the election to assure the American people just exactly what may have happened or may not have happened", Coats said. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., are pushing a bill that would prohibit foreign governments from purchasing election ads, using social media to spread false information or disrupting election infrastructure.
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It comes after Martina Navratilova, an eighteen-time Grand Slam singles champion, slammed Williams' outburst during the U.S. Open final defeat, writing for the New York Times that she had behavior "that no one should be engaging in on the court".
Trump signed the order just two months before the midterms.
Sanctions will be calibrated based on the seriousness of the interference, Bolton said.
Lawmakers and independent analysts say that federal and state action has already made US voting systems more secure against foreign hackers. That's according to sources, who exclusively told Reuters an executive order could be signed by President Donald Trump as early as Wednesday (September 12). But Trump in July publicly accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's denials at a joint press conference after they met for a summit in Helsinki.
The US intelligence community has concluded that in 2016 Russian operatives were unable to accomplish the former, but resoundingly successful in the latter.
But aides have said that Trump's anger at what he views as a questioning of his surprise election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton colors his view of the threat to future elections, and slowed down the administration's planning for this year's congressional election.
Amid serious backlash from both sides of the aisle, the Republican president later explained that he "misspoke" and said he had "great confidence" in U.S. intelligence.
Most American intelligence agencies have determined Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential contest in Trump's favor, and top officials have warned foreign actors continue to work toward affecting the outcomes of future United States contests.
In June, the U.S. slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and individuals for allegedly aiding Russia's intelligence agency in cyber-attacks against the US. Trump dismisses the investigations as a political witch hunt.