International desk: The US ambassador to Panama has resigned, saying that he no longer felt able to serve President Donald Trump.
John Feeley, 56, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, announced his resignation in a letter to the state department.
“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,” he wrote, in a letter obtained by Reuters, accorfing to The Telegraph.
“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”
Mr Feeley becomes the first ambassador to resign over concerns about Mr Trump’s leadership.
His resignation was made public hours after Mr Trump’s comments on “s——-” nations were made public, but a senior state department official told The Telegraph that Mr Feeley’s decision was made before the remarks.
“Ambassador Feeley informed leadership of his decision on December 27, 2017,” the state department said.
The spokesman added that the deputy chief of mission, Roxanne Cabral, will assume leadership of the diplomatic mission until a new ambassador arrives.
The state department said 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.”
However, his resignation is a sign of growing concern at the president’s behaviour, and at the direction of the state department under Rex Tillerson.
Mr Tillerson, reluctant to take the job right from the start, has overseen the hollowing out of the state department, with senior career diplomats leaving the service en masse.
Furthermore, the secretary of state has been repeatedly undermined and humiliated by Mr Trump.
The president challenged his secretary of state to an IQ test, boasting that he knew he’d beat his Mr Tillerson.
When Mr Tillerson was dispatched to hold delicate negotiations on North Korea with the Chinese, Mr Trump tweeted: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man… …Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…
In October, Mr Tillerson refused to deny he had referred to Mr Trump as a “——- moron”.
Mr Feeley has worked at the state department for nearly 30 years.
He was nominated to the ambassadorship by President Barack Obama in July 2015 and was sworn in to the post on January 15, 2016.
Before becoming ambassador to Panama, Mr Feeley served as principal deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs from 2012 to 2015.
From 2009 to 2012, he was stationed in Mexico, where he worked as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the American embassy in Mexico City.