Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference

Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference
© Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump phoned bank CEOs as stock market plunged Wednesday: report The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump pressured Mnuchin on labeling China a currency manipulator: report 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 PompeoTrump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan Japan's Hormuz dilemma The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? MORE's meeting with Saudi and Turkish officials.


"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.


Google, Uber and the head of the International Monetary Fund are among those who have withdrawn from the event in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance.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 RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move 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 FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight 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 Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sale GOP chairman yanks Saudi bill after Democrats muscle through tougher language 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 watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? 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.