A Chorus of Republican Lawmakers Demand Steve Mnuchin Withdraw From Saudi Summit

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Republican lawmakers are pushing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to withdraw from the Future Investment Initiative conference—a summit in Riyadh business leaders are boycotting over Saudi Arabia’s suspected role in the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The latest politician to pressure the Treasury Secretary was Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who on Tuesday tweeted “Secretary Mnuchin should not be going to Riyadh.”

Flake’s rebuke of Mnuchin’s appearance at the gathering follows criticisms from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.).

“I don’t think he should go,” Rubio told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “I don’t think any of our government officials should be going and pretending it’s business as usual until we know exactly what’s happened here.”

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The Florida senator appeared to threaten international consequences toward the Saudi regime, promising “a very strong congressional response if in fact the Saudis lured [Khashoggi] into that consulate, murdered him, cut up his body and disposed of it.”

Banks tweeted out several days prior that “Secretary Mnuchin should cancel his travel to Saudi Arabia later this month until the world receives answers about what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.”

Billed as “Davos in the Desert,” the Future Investment Initiative Conference has seen a number of American business leaders withdraw amid public backlash against Saudi Arabia—JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, AOL co-founder Steve Case and Uber CEO Dara Khorowshahi are just a few industry titans to cancel their attendance. Media sponsors, including The New York Times and CNBC, have also pulled out over the past week.

Despite the controversy, Mnuchin announced over the weekend his plans to attend the summit. “The conference is on. For now, I am going,” Mnuchin told reporters on Saturday morning.

A Chorus of Republican Lawmakers Demand Steve Mnuchin Withdraw From Saudi Summit