Treasury Secretary Mnuchin drops out of Saudi Arabia summit

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he will not attend a high-profile investor conference in Saudi Arabia, the latest fallout from the disappearance and presumed death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mnuchin had planned to attend the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh, set for Oct. 23-25. But Khashoggi, a powerful critic of Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, disappeared after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey. Widely held worries that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate has led numerous global government and corporate leaders, including leaders from Google, the World Bank and Uber, to cancel plans to attend the summit.

Last year, FOX Business was among the few to sitdown with the Crown Prince who is pushing economic and social progression in the Kingdom. The country is also building a new futuristic city called NEOM.

U.S. stocks, which were trading lower before the news, saw some additional pressure.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33762.76 +701.19 +2.12%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13240.76594 +139.78 +1.07%
SP500 S&P 500 4282.37 +61.35 +1.45%

Earlier this week President Trump publicly expressed concern about the journalist’s fate.

Trump said Tuesday that it is imperative that what happened to Khashoggi be revealed.

“Turkey and Saudi Arabia are looking at it very strongly and it depends if the king or crown prince knew about it, in my opinion. Number one, what happened? But, whether or not they knew about it. If they knew about it, that would be bad,” Trump said during an interview on FOX Business’ “Trish Regan Primetime.”

Mnuchin’s announcement that he was canceling his trip to the summit came shortly after  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Trump on the results of his fact-finding trip to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, where he traveled to learn about Khashoggi's fate.

“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 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 Thursday from the White House.

A growing number of  Republican senators are already calling for consequences for Saudi Arabia, according to Fox News. 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.

Khashoggi's body has not been found.

Fox Business Network, which was a sponsor of the Saudi summit, has pulled out. “FOX Business Network has canceled its sponsorship and participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia. We continue to seek an interview with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman" according to a statement from FOX Business.

21st Century Fox is the parent of FOX Business.