The threat of foreign interference in American elections came to a head during the 2016 election, particularly when emails from Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee were leaked; Russian intelligence officers were later indicted for the crime. Russian hackers have again tried to breach several candidates, think tanks, and even the U.S. Senate in the run-up to the 2018 midterms. Still, Trump has tended to brush off potential Russian threats, going so far as to call anything that happened in 2016 a "hoax."
With this order, it looks like Trump is changing course. The document requires any federal agency that suspects election interference to notify National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, an official who's seen a draft told Reuters. "Interference" includes any attempts to hack election systems or influence how people vote.
The U.S. still has Russia under heavy sanctions for annexing Crimea and past election meddling, and officials "played down how effective sanctions might be against election meddling," per the Times. Still, one official said the move shows just how serious Trump is about protecting American elections. Kathryn Krawczyk