US ambassador to Panama resigns, says cannot serve Trump

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - 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 the word "shithole" 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 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." (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Tom Brown)

13 PHOTOS
Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration
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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration

Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban. 

(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian officials. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Trump fired Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh amid White House leaks in April.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files)

President Trump fired U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara in March.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in early May.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communications director in late May.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC resigned in July.

(Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in July.

(June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned in July.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former advisor to President Donald Trump Steve Bannon resigned in August.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director was fired in July after just 10 days on the job. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Tom Brown)

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