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.'
U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, has resigned
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 the word 's***thole' to describe Haiti and African countries at a meeting on Thursday. Trump denies using the term.
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.'
President Donald Trump (speaking at a cabinet meeting Wednesday) reportedly told lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office that he was mystified about why the U.S. imports people from 's***hole countries' in the Third World
The president denied on Friday making a widely condemned comment railing against accepting immigrants from 's***hole countries,' even as he admitted to using 'tough' language in an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers.
'The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,' Trump wrote, using unusually passive language in an effort to walk back the comment.
'What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!' Trump tweeted Friday.
He said he signed an oath 'to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies' - something he no longer felt he could do
The president's latest comments were immediately contradicted by Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, who was in the Oval Office meeting and says Trump made the 'vile and vulgar' comments repeatedly.
'You've seen the comments in the press,' Durbin said. 'I have not read one of them that's inaccurate. To no surprise, the President started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.'
The tweet came hours after a bombshell report about Trump's comments, which the White House did not immediately deny.
Trump made a public case against an immigration deal Friday by complaining that people from 'high crime' countries get to come here after getting blasted for ranting that people from 's***hole countries get to come here.'
'When the question was raised about Haitians, for example. We have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises, disasters, and political upheaval,' Durbin continued. 'The largest group's El Salvadoran, the second is Honduran and the third is Haitian. And when I mentioned that fact to him he said Haitians, do we need more Haitians?'
'And then he went on and he started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments calling the nations they come from s***holes. The exact word used by the president not just once, but repeatedly. That was the nature of this conversation.'
Trump denied a report he made a comment about removing people who came here from Haiti after disasters struck their home country
'He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,' said Sen. Richard Durbin (left of Trump) of Illinois, who was in the meeting
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville (pictured in Geneva) said there was no other word that could be used to describe President Trump's comments other than 'racist'
The president decided to use his 'tough' language in a bipartisan meeting that included Durbin, an original author of the 'DREAM Act' to provide protected status for people who came here illegally as children.
The comments has caused outrage around the world, with the United Nations calling President Trump 'racist'.
U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said 'racist' was the only world that could be used to describe Trump's comments
He added: 'You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 's***holes', whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.'
Hillary Clinton piled on z, bringing up the anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and using it as a club to hit at her former rival.
'The anniversary of the devastating earthquake 8 years ago is a day to remember the tragedy, honor the resilient people of Haiti, & affirm America’s commitment to helping our neighbors,' Clinton said.
'Instead, we‘re subjected to Trump’s ignorant, racist views of anyone who doesn’t look like him.'
Trump also said that instead of accepting Africans and Haitians, the U.S. should seek to assimilate people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met with a day earlier.
Unlike Haiti and all the nations of Africa, Norway is both a NATO member and a stalwart U.S. ally.