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 MnuchinSchumer requests investigation into Trump admin decision to delay bill featuring Harriet Tubman Schumer requests investigation into Trump admin decision to delay bill featuring Harriet Tubman Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record 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 PompeoIs America headed toward war? Is America headed toward war? Polar bear spotted hundreds of miles south of normal hunting grounds 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Google, Uber and the head of the International Monetary Fund are among those who have withdrawn from the event in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance.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 RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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 FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission 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 TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' 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.