Tom Barrack, CEO and Trump friend, drops out of Saudi conference

Barrack was scheduled to speak with Mnuchin

By JULIA HOROWITZ AND CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS
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Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital and a close friend of President Donald Trump, has dropped out of next week's Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia.

(CNN) - Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital and a close friend of President Donald Trump, has dropped out of next week's Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia.

Barrack told CNN that his session at the summit was canceled because he was scheduled to speak with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who pulled out of the event on Thursday.

"As a consequence, I postponed my visit," said Barrack, who chaired the president's inaugural committee.

Barrack, a real estate investor, has known Trump for 40 years. He's previously helped raise money to support Trump's political ambitions and has publicly defended the president.

A wave of top executives withdrew from the high-profile investment conference this week amid growing controversy over dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance and apparent killing.

JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink and Blackstone (BX) CEO Stephen Schwarzman said earlier this week that they will not attend.

Mnuchin announced his decision shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Trump on his visit earlier this week to Riyadh to discuss the Khashoggi case.

Pompeo urged patience with the Saudi investigation, telling reporters that he advised the President to give the Saudis "a few more days" — but Mnuchin followed up shortly afterward with a tweet saying he would not go to Riyadh, reversing the position he's taken over the past week.

"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 Thursday.

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