Diplomats face challenge of reassuring allies they’re not ‘s—hole countries’

“Will they have to work extra hard? Yes, but that’s OK -– it doesn’t change what we do,” said Goldstein. “Our diplomats are committed to the nations they are serving and care deeply about the people.”

He added: “The president has the right to say whatever he chooses. That’s the advantage of being president. But we have an obligation to the people of that country –- that hasn’t changed. Nothing has changed.”

If a country asks for confirmation –- did the president of the U.S. say what he is reported to have said –- then U.S. diplomats “will report that back to Washington and we’ll provide appropriate guidance should that occur,” Goldstein said, declining to elaborate further.

There was some speculation Friday that the comments had already led to one diplomat’s resignation after news broke that the U.S. ambassador to Panama John Feeley had stepped down from his post.

But Feeley — a senior Foreign Service officer, retired Marine helicopter pilot and “one of the Department’s leading Latin America specialists,” according to the State Department — submitted his resignation on Dec. 27. In his purported resignation letter, obtained by Reuters, Feeley pointed to Trump as his reason for leaving.

“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. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” Feeley said, according to the news agency.

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