U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order aimed at punishing foreigners who interfere in U.S. elections.
The order, signed on September 12, comes amid continuing criticism of Trump and his administration for downplaying threats to the U.S. elections, including the 2016 presidential vote that he won.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said the United States was not yet seeing the intensity of Russian interference that was seen in 2016. He also said the order was not specifically aimed at Russia, and he cited China, North Korea, and Iran as other possible threats.
"It's more than Russia here," he told reporters.
National-security adviser John Bolton said the order gave the State and Treasury departments the authority to decide on appropriate sanctions, which would include freezing assets, limiting access to U.S. financial institutions, and travel restrictions.
Military and law enforcement agencies have warned that the upcoming November 6 congressional elections could be at risk from foreign meddling. That vote will determine control of Congress.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed the U.S. intelligence findings about alleged Russian interference, even as Congress has moved to impose strict penalties against Russia and others for things that include election meddling.
New legislation currently making its way through Congress would impose even harsher punishment against Russia, including things like cutting Moscow off from sovereign-debt markets.
Trump has also derided Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling.
In July, Mueller's team announced an indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers, who prosecutors said were behind the hacking of the servers belonging to the Democratic Party in 2016.