Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth asked Trump's EPA chief on Tuesday if he found Morocco to be a "shithole" after he visited the North African country last year to promote use of American natural gas.
"Can I assume, like all decent Americans, you did not find Morocco, a North African nation, to be a shithole when you visited?" Duckworth asked.
Duckworth was referring to reports that President Trump referred to African nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting with Democrats on immigration policy this month.
Scott Pruitt ignored the question, which was used to wrap up the senator's preceding questions about EPA's authorization to promote natural gas when it is the Energy Department's role to do so.
After Trump's remarks were leaked, the African Union, in which Morocco is a member, demanded Trump respond to the statement and apologize. Trump met with the chairman of the African Union in Davos, Switzerland, last week. The president did not say whether the comment was discussed in that conversation.
Pruitt pushed back against Duckworth's line of questions on his travel when she mistakenly said he took four foreign trips. She demanded a detailed schedule of his meetings.
"I will do so because it will show I attended two countries, not four. So, I'm not sure where you got your information from," Pruitt replied.
Duckworth responded that two of his planned trips, to Japan and Israel, were canceled due to the government shutdown.
The senator said the "promotion of natural gas is something that the Department of Energy would do, or perhaps someone running for governor of Oklahoma, or some other elected office there, but not consistent with what the head of the EPA should be doing."
The EPA inspector general is investigating Pruitt's trip to Morocco, which cost $40,000. The trip was added to a previous investigation over the EPA chief's use of private and military flights and his frequent travel as administrator to his home state of Oklahoma, where he served as attorney general.