U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley received an icy reception at the Women in the World summit in New York City Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Haley had delivered a harsh critique of the Russian government and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council following this week’s deadly chemical attack on Syrian civilians. But at the kickoff of the annual feminist conference at Lincoln Center, Haley was the one under fire.
Following a panel discussion that featured two doctors who’ve been on the front lines of the Syrian civil war and have witnessed the Assad regime’s attacks on hospitals, Haley expressed outrage over the “heartbreaking” situation in Syria and, once again, pointed the finger at Russia.
“If they supposedly have so much clout in Syria, they need to do their job,” Haley said of Vladimir Putin’s government, as a largely nonresponsive crowd began growing restless.
The panel was moderated by MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren, who elicited the night’s biggest round of applause when she asked the ambassador why, despite his recent condemnations of Assad, President Trump has been largely silent concerning Russia’s role in Syria.
“Keep in mind I work for the Trump administration,” Haley said, as a wave of boos rippled softly through the audience.
“I have hit Russia over the head more times than I can count,” she continued, despite rumblings from the crowd. “Because if they do something wrong, we’re gonna call them out on it.”
Haley, who said that she had spoken to the president earlier in the day, insisted that Trump is concerned about Russia, an assertion that further incited the audience.
“I have had conversations with the president where he very much sees Russia as a problem,” she said, the hecklers growing progressively louder. “I think if you look at his actions, you know, everybody wants to hear his words, but look at his actions. The two things that Russia doesn’t want to see the U.S. do is strengthen our military and expand energy, and the president has done both of those.”
Asked about her approach to dealing with dictators in her new role, the former South Carolina governor said that her goal was to “call them out when they do something wrong” and to “work with them when you can.”
“Get to the next panel!” an audience member shouted in response.
It was not exactly a shock that a member of the Trump administration would receive a less-than-warm welcome from a room full of people who’d paid to hear speakers like Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards discuss feminism for three days, but Haley managed to carry on with the interview unfazed, telling Van Susteren that she has no regrets about taking on the U.N. job.
“Everyone was waiting to see what the U.S. was going to do,” she said. “What we have to do is lead.”
After Haley finished, Women in the World founder Tina Brown addressed the “boisterous reception” for Haley and commended the ambassador for showing up.
“We often complain and sneer and say Republicans never want to come on any kind of forum except Fox News or places where they can be, you know, asked questions that are soft,” Brown said, adding that Haley “graciously” remained calm amid the heckling. “She didn’t get agitated about it, and she’s in the middle of a lot of world crises.”
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