Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference

Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference
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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts The case for Russia sanctions Treasury issues final rules on key part of Trump's tax law MORE told reporters Wednesday that he intends to decide by Thursday whether to attend an economic summit in Saudi Arabia.

Mnuchin said at a Treasury press event that he still plans to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh next week, but is waiting to hear the results of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation Trump to meet with top North Korean official to discuss 'fully verified' denuclearization MORE's meeting with Saudi and Turkish officials.

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"We're going to revisit the decision again tomorrow," Mnuchin said, according to a CNN report. "So for now we are. We're going to make a decision tomorrow based on Secretary Pompeo's report." 

Mnuchin's decision is in the spotlight as the Trump administration faces pressure to deliver a tougher response to Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Published reports on Wednesday said audio exists of Khashoggi being killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Instanbul.

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Google, Uber and the head of the International Monetary Fund are among those who have withdrawn from the event in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance.

Mnuchin has faced growing calls from lawmakers to drop out of the conference, known as "Davos in the Desert," as officials investigate what happened to Khashoggi. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE (R-Fla.) said Sunday that the U.S. can't conduct "business as usual" in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance, and said Mnuchin should not go to Riyadh.

Since then, Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least MORE (R-Ariz.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungGOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown Trump's military moves accelerate GOP search for next McCain Kevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 MORE (R-Ind.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) have each said Mnuchin should drop out of the event. Multiple Democrats have said the same.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE said in an interview Tuesday that Mnuchin doesn't need to decide until Friday.

"It depends on what we find out over the next couple of days," Trump told The Associated Press.

Pompeo met on Tuesday and Wednesday with leaders from Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He offered few details on the investigation into Khashoggi's status, and said the Saudis need time to conduct a thorough review of the incident.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who spoke critically of Saudi leadership, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. 

President Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. has requested audio and video from Turkey related to Khashoggi's disappearance.

Saudi leadership has said it does not know what happened to Khashoggi, denials Trump has repeatedly highlighted even as lawmakers indicate it's likely the journalist was murdered.