U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., declined to answer questions in Charleston on Friday regarding reports that President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”
None of West Virginia’s other members of Congress issued statements on the president’s remarks as well.
In an interview Friday after a tour of the Carver Career Center, Mooney twice refused to comment. “I’m here to talk about education today,” he said.
Prior to the interview, an aide said that Mooney would only be taking questions on education.
Later in the day, Mooney went to the state Capitol to file for re-election. There, he again declined to comment.
According to a New York Times report, Trump made the remark during immigration policy negotiations regarding protections for people from Haiti and certain African nations.
“Why do we want people from Haiti here?” Trump asked, per the report.
Trump denied Friday morning that he made the remarks, but others in the room, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have said the president’s comments were accurately reported.
Mooney’s mother, Lala Mooney, was born and raised in Cuba under Fidel Castro, where she and others in her family were jailed for opposing Castro’s communist regime, prior to entering the U.S., according to his campaign website.
None of U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin or Reps. Evan Jenkins and David McKinley had released any statements as of Friday afternoon about Trump’s remarks. All but Manchin are Republicans.