Updated: 12:08 p.m. EST
John D. Feeley — who served as an active-duty military helicopter pilot for the Marine Corps prior to joining the State Department in 1990 — began his role as ambassador to Panama in February 2016. The State Department confirmed Feeley's resignation Friday. He will leave on March 9.
“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 wrote in his resignation letter, according to Reuters. "My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor-bound to resign."
Trump caused a controversy on Thursday when he reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and countries in Africa as “shithole countries” during a meeting on immigration with senators in the Oval Office. The president lamented the influx of immigrants from such countries, and, according to senators present, indicated a preference for immigrants from countries like Norway, whose Prime Minister had visited the White House the day before.
In a Friday morning series of tweets, Trump seemed to deny that he had made such comments. But Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who was in the meeting with the president when he allegedly made the “shithole comments,” went on MSNBC to say that Trump wasn't telling the truth.
News of Feeley's resignation picked up steam Friday, as Trump's controversial comments continued to cause waves throughout the nation's capital, but the veteran diplomat’s exit had been in the works for some time, according to the AP's Matt Lee.