Trump’s rhetoric has further alienated the United States, as his recent string of controversial comments made about European allies has prompted the resignation of a diplomat with a 33-year career.
U.S. ambassador to Estonia, James D. Melville Jr., a career diplomat and member of the senior foreign service ranks, announced to friends Friday that he was resigning in direct response to Trump’s own words.
“A Foreign Service Officer’s DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign,” Melville wrote in a private Facebook post obtained by Foreign Policy. “Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me.”
Melville has served as a diplomat for 33 years and as ambassador to Estonia since 2015. He was due to retire soon but decided to accelerate his timeline after Trump’s latest international gaffe.
“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go,” he wrote, quoting the president’s unintelligible rant.
State Department officials were caught off guard by the sudden announcement, as Melville is reportedly a consummate professional who never let domestic politics impact his job.
“I leave willingly and with deep gratitude for being able to serve my nation with integrity for many years, and with great confidence that America, which is and has always been, great, will someday return to being right,” Melville continued in his resignation post.
His last day on the job will come two days prior to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s July 31 departure, though Trump’s administration has yet to name a replacement since quietly withdrawing Edward Masso from consideration last month.
The resignation comes ahead of a NATO summit and is making many world leaders sweat. The allies that Trump is systematically pushing further away from fear that Trump will further lambaste them after heated trade disputes, arguments over defense spending, and his wild decision to pull the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal.
The State Department did not immediately respond to Foreign Policy’s request for comment.
Melville is just the latest in a string of senior U.S. diplomats who have resigned because of Trump and his policies. Take Elizabeth Shackelford, for example, a rising star in the diplomatic corps in Africa. She quit with a scathing resignation letter obtained by Foreign Policy deriding Trump and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for what she saw as their disdain for U.S. diplomacy.
State Department officials who have not yet announced their retirement wonder how many more of their own will leave for similar reasons.
“It means a lot when someone who’s had it all in their career just says, ‘I can’t do this any longer,’” one senior official said of Melville’s retirement. “I just wonder who’s next.”