Dutch journalists peppered Hoekstra, who became Trump's ambassador after serving 18 years as a Republican congressman from MI, with questions on unsubstantiated claims he made in 2015 about the chaos the "Islamic movement" had brought to the Netherlands.
The new American ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, refused to comment at his inaugural press conference in Den Haag about his past allegations claiming politicians were set on fire in the Netherlands.
Peter Hoekstra, the newly minted USA ambassador to the Netherlands, held his first conference with the Dutch media at his new residence in the Hague on Wednesday.
Another asked, "Would you please take back your remark about burned politicians, or name a politician that was burned in the Netherlands". "I have advised, as I've advised most people, that when reporters are in front of you, just as you are in front of me, that it's always good to answer question".
Wednesday's press conference was not Hoekstra's first awkward exchange with a Dutch reporter.
"Please, this is not how it works", another said.
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"There are cars being burned". There are politicians that are being burned.
"The Ambassador made mistakes in 2015, made comments that should not have been made", Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Steve Goldstein told reporters. Later, after being played a recording of his comment, he denied calling it fake news. Hoekstra had brazenly denied making those remarks - even though they were captured on videotape - in a one-on-one interview with a Dutch journalist in December. "That is actually an incorrect statement, we would call it "fake news", Hoekstra said.
During the exchange on Wednesday, which was captured on video, the ambassador fell silent as a series of reporters continued to query him, drawing a slew of critical headlines in the Netherlands and coverage across the world. But he did not clarify whether the apology was meant to include the no-go zone comments when asked on Wednesday.
Dutch reporters didn't move on, however, pressing for clarification, the Times reported.
In a December 23 note on Twitter Hoekstra acknowledged having made the comments in 2015 and said he regretted his exchange with the Dutch news organization: "I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview".
"Do you now reach the conclusion that you were wrong when you stated that politicians and cars were being burned?" one reporter asked, the Times reported.