Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will not attend the Riyadh Future Investment Initiative scheduled for next week, he announced Thursday. Several finance and technology executives had already canceled their appearances at the conference, last week and earlier this week, following the disappearance and alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.
Again and again, Mnuchin reportedly confirmed he still planned to attend, indicating that he either got new information that changed his mind or was talked out of going. Meanwhile, Trump has likened the accusations that the Saudi government was responsible for Khashoggi’s likely murder to the sexual misconduct allegations against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and the administration reportedly tried to come up with a halfway plausible story that would exonerate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all the while emphasizing how important Saudi Arabia’s military equipment orders are to the U.S. economy.
Mnuchin was going to speak at the conference as part of a larger Middle East tour, the New York Times reported. He had been, according to the Times, “fielding calls from executives in recent days about the wisdom of attending” and “had been urging everyone to focus on the facts and evidence.”
And then he decided not to go after all.