The executive action came less than two months before the November 6 midterm elections, and two years after US authorities say Russian Federation meddled in the presidential race won by Trump.
One source, a US official, said the order would slap sanctions on any attempt to interfere in national elections.
Bolton says the executive order will work to stem disinformation campaigns or any attempt to manipulate the outcome of ballots. The intelligence officials saying that they have also seen interference activity out of China, Iran, and North Korea.
Amid serious backlash from both sides of the aisle, the Republican president later explained that he "misspoke" and said he had "great confidence" in USA intelligence.
Coats said Trump's order directs intelligence agencies to conduct an assessment within 45 days after an election to report any meddling to the attorney general and Department of Homeland Security.
But, unlike a bipartisan bill now making its way through Congress, the order does not require Trump to issue stiff sanctions on such meddlers.
Trump has repeatedly called the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election a "witch hunt", and alleged without evidence that the inquiry is "rigged" against him.
"Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply can not be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters", Warner said.
Bolton said criticism that Trump had been too deferential to Russia or blinkered in his view of Russian election interference played "zero" role in the new action. The intelligence agencies will then send their findings to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which will have another 45 days to decide whether the US should impose sanctions on the foreign entities in question.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russian Federation was behind an effort to tip the scale of the USA election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorised campaign of cyber-attacks and fake news stories planted on social media. The finding would then be passed to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, who would then make a determination within 45 days whether the interference took place and warranted sanctions. It also describes a process for the Treasury and State departments to recommend appropriate, automatic sanctions.
The lawmakers said Trump's executive order does not change the need for legislation.
"While the administration has yet to share the full text, 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", Warner said. He said he was in talks with lawmakers about possible legislation.
"It's more than Russian Federation here that we're looking at", he said. He cast the White House action as a way to strengthen USA defenses immediately. 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.