U.S. 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,” Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters on Friday.
“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”
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.”
Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said Feeley’s departure was not a response to Trump’s alleged use of a vulgar word to describe Haiti and African countries at a meeting on Thursday. Trump denies using the word.
Speaking to reporters, Goldstein said that he was aware of Feeley’s planned departure 24 hours 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.”