President Donald Trump is signing an executive order authorizing sanctions against foreigners who meddle in USA elections.
Congress is also considering several pieces of legislation that would punish foreign countries for interfering in USA elections.
'We felt it was important to demonstrate the president is taking command of this issue, ' said Trump's national security advisor John Bolton on a call with reporters.
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 USA financial institutions. He added that "an executive order that inevitably leaves the President broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient".
This is a developing story.
Congressional pressure for tougher federal defenses against foreign election interference grew following Trump's July 16 summit and news conference with Putin, when Trump avoided publicly confronting the Russian leader about Moscow's efforts to influence the election.
Bolton said criticism of the president's response to the issue, which has included his controversial comments in Helsinki and numerous tweets, played "zero" role in driving the issuance of the executive order.
"President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today". "Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin when it matters", said Warner, who is sponsoring the bill. "We must make sure Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy".
USA lawmakers have introduced various pieces of Russia-related legislation, including the "Deter Act", to set out punishments for election meddling, and what one lawmaker called a sanctions bill "from hell" to punish Moscow for cyber crime and its activities in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.
'This clearly is a process put in place to try to assure that we are doing every possible thing we can to first of all prevent any interference in our election, ' said Coats. The attorney general and Department of Homeland Security then have another 45 days to assess whether sanctions should be imposed.
The order, which comes just weeks ahead of November's midterm elections, will direct US intelligence agencies to investigate whether the election meddling took place.
The sanctions themselves range from blocked assets, export licenses, access to banking and lending, credit transfers, or US investors, according to Bolton.
Rogers said he would tell Trump: "Mr. President, I understand that, but I'm paid by the citizens of the nation to tell you what we think".
James Clapper, the former national intelligence director who appeared with Rogers and other former intelligence officials, said he personally believes that the Russian interference did influence the outcome of the 2016 election, but didn't elaborate. "And if we don't do something, they (the Russians) are not going to stop".
Added Coats: 'We have seen signs of not just Russian Federation, but from China, from - capabilities potentially from Iran and even North Korea.
Lawmakers and independent analysts say that federal and state action has already made US voting systems more secure against foreign hackers.