One of the perks of being the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is a sweet New York apartment—for years it was in the Waldorf-Astoria, but now it’s in a new building on First Avenue. And current U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has gotten some amazing—or at least amazingly expensive—curtains to go with that amazing apartment:
The curtains themselves cost $29,900, while the motors and hardware needed to open and close them automatically cost $22,801, according to the contracts. Installation took place from March to August of last year, during Ms. Haley’s tenure as ambassador.
According to a Haley spokesman, the Obama administration planned to buy the curtains and Haley had nothing to do with it. This may or may not be true—as we’ve learned, the first story the Trump administration tells isn’t always 100 percent accurate—but the Obama administration was not responsible for the context in which the curtains were bought:
While Ms. Haley’s curtains were being ordered and installed, Rex W. Tillerson, the administration’s first secretary of state, had frozen hiring, pushed out many of the department’s most senior diplomats and proposed cutting the department’s budget by 31 percent. In embassies around the world, projects were eliminated, jobs were left unfilled and the delegation to last year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting was slashed.
Whatever the arguments for the curtains, if the Obama administration planned the purchase, it did so in the expectation that the State Department would continue being funded and run as if diplomacy mattered. Instead, even if we buy that there are good reasons for the U.N. ambassador’s apartment to have elaborate mechanized curtains, the question becomes whether this project was more important than all the projects that were scrapped and jobs that weren’t filled. Unlikely. But this is the one that went through. And that’s if the Trump administration’s explanation is accurate and truthful.