Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he has decided against attending a conference in Saudi Arabia this month, amid the uproar over the the presumed death of activist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin tweeted.
Mnuchin has been facing calls to cancel his plans to attend after Khashoggi vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate.
The Future Investment Initiative summit is scheduled for Oct. 23-25 in Riyadh. A number of high-profile people – including leaders from the World Bank, Google and Uber – have also announced plans to drop out.
Mnuchin’s decision comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who traveled to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to meet with officials about Khashoggi’s disappearance – told reporters Thursday he recommended that the president give more time to the Saudis to complete an investigation before deciding how to respond.
“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so we can get a complete understanding (of) the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make a decision about how the United States should respond to the issues surrounding Mr. Khashoggi,” Pompeo said.
A growing number of Republican senators are already calling for consequences for Saudi Arabia. These lawmakers are nudging Trump to take action, while suggesting they could respond through congressional action if he doesn't.
“The president needs to be measured -- I get that -- but the world is watching us,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on “Fox News @ Night.”
In an earlier interview Tuesday with Fox News, Graham said he wants to see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman forced out of his position. He also called for Congress to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Wednesday the situation is “really going to challenge” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, though said it’s “too early to predict what the consequences will be.”
"I can’t imagine there will be no response," McConnell said.
“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi as described by the Turkish press is an atrocity,” Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins tweeted. “We must get to the bottom of this, and if the Saudis killed Mr. Khashoggi, those responsible must be held accountable.”
Earlier this week, Trump said he spoke with the Saudi crown prince, who “denied any knowledge” of the circumstances leading to the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi.
The body of Khashoggi, who wrote columns critical of the crown prince, has not been found.