Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he would no longer attend an economic summit in Saudi Arabia, days after many other business leaders pulled out of the event amid growing evidence that the country’s officials ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Several advocacy organizations as well as some lawmakers had called on Mnuchin to withdraw from the event, which is scheduled for later this month.
“I don’t think we should continue as business as usual until we know exactly what’s happened here. ... I don’t think he should go,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Over the last week, a spate of business and media executives, from companies including Viacom, Uber, Ford and JPMorgan Chase, had announced their withdrawal from the Future Investment Initiative conference, scheduled to begin Oct. 23 in Riyadh.
Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday that he still planned to attend but would reconsider if “more information comes out” about Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Trump and the White House have faced criticism for not responding forcefully to the disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and contributor to The Washington Post.
Despite growing evidence that Khashoggi was murdered, Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have accepted the Saudi government’s denials of having any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance or knowledge of his whereabouts.
Pompeo cited an ongoing investigation into the situation.
“There are lots of stories out there about what happened, and I’m going to allow the process to move forward and allow the facts to unfold, and as they unfold, we will make a determination for ourselves about what happened there, based on the facts that are presented,” Pompeo told reporters Thursday, after meeting with Trump.
This story has been updated with more background about the administration’s response to Khashoggi’s disappearance.