US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, has resigned, telling the State Department he no longer feels able to serve President Donald Trump.
“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the President and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters.
A State Department spokeswoman confirmed Feeley’s departure, saying that he “has informed the White House, the Department of State, and the Government of Panama of his decision to retire for personal reasons, as of March 9 of this year.”
Feely’s decision comes the day after it was alleged Trump described Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries”, a charge he has denied despite Senator Dick Durban, who was present at the meeting, insisting he had.
The President was reportedly being informed of the impact of immigrants from Haiti and African nations when he reportedly asked: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?
“We should have more people from places like Norway.”
But a statement last night from the White House appeared to back up the allegations and did not offer a denial of the terms used.
Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said Feeley’s departure was not a response to Trump’s alleged use of the word “shithole” and said that he was aware of Feeley’s planned departure 24 in advance, before Trump’s alleged use of the term, and said his understanding was that the ambassador had resigned for “personal reasons.”
“Everyone has a line that they will not cross,” “Goldstein told reporters at the State Department. “If the ambassador feels that he can no longer serve ... then he has made the right decision for himself and we respect that.”