GOP senators: Mnuchin should not go to Saudi Arabia

GOP senators: Mnuchin should not go to Saudi Arabia
© Greg Nash

A growing number of senators are urging Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Trump called out for 'my favorite dictator' while awaiting Egyptian leader at summit: report Romney opposes Trump taking executive action to reduce capital gains taxes MORE to not attend a summit in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the disappearance of a U.S.-based journalist.

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (Ariz.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and frequent critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE's, became the latest senator to publicly say Mnuchin should not attend the Future Investment Initiative, which is scheduled for next week.

"Secretary Mnuchin should not be going to Riyadh," Flake said in a tweet.

GOP Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (Ind.), another member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a separate tweet on Tuesday that he does not believe Mnuchin should attend the conference.

"America’s basic and fundamental values demand a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. I continue to believe that Secretary Mnuchin should not attend the investment conference in Riyadh next week," Young said.

And Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump defends push to ban flavored e-cigarettes: Let's 'keep young children from Vaping!' Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, indicated on Tuesday that he did not want Mnuchin to attend, saying it shouldn't be a "hard decision" for Trump to ask the top Treasury official to cancel his trip to the conference.

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Several high-profile figures — including retired general and KKR executive David Petraeus and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — have pulled out of the conference in the wake of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

Trump told reporters in Georgia that he he had not made a final decision on whether Mnuchin would back out of attending the conference, but expected a decision would be made by Friday.

Khashoggi has been missing since Oct. 2, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork needed for his marriage.

CNN reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia was readying a report that would acknowledge Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong. One source told CNN that the report would likely find that the interrogation was carried out "without clearance."

Khashoggi's disappearance has put a new strain on the U.S.-Saudi relationship, with Trump facing bipartisan pressure from Congress to enact swift punishment on Riyadh if officials there can't provide evidence that Khashoggi is still alive.

But Trump, as recently as Tuesday afternoon, has repeated claims by top Saudi officials that they were not involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday that he "just spoke" with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate."