Alisyn Camerota, co-host of CNN’s New Day, interviewed former United States Ambassador to Panama John Feeley Monday morning. Feeley explained his reasons for resigning in a Washington Post op-ed titled “Why I Could No Longer Serve This President”, arguing that “the President’s policies regarding migration are not only foolish and delusional but also Anti-American.”
CNN had previously touted an op-ed written by Josh Campbell, an FBI agent who had left the bureau over “relentless attacks.” The op-ed so impressed CNN that they decided to hire Campbell as a contributor just three days after its publication. Donald Trump Jr. actually joked about their decision to hire Campbell on Twitter: “You would think their stable is full in the hate on Trump department. Ahh, who am I kidding? It’s CNN of course there’s more room.”
It did not take long for another “conscientious objector” to the Trump Administration to win the hearts and minds of the lapdogs at CNN. Camerota teed up the interview with Feeley by asking him if there was a “particular breaking point” for him. He argued that President Trump’s response to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where he “failed to condemn outright and fully those organizers and the people carrying the tiki torches”, served as the breaking point.
His op-ed particularly criticized the President’s immigration policies as “delusional” and “anti-American.” He then made some remarks that echoed President Obama’s infamous “guns and religion” comment, saying that “it continues to be anti-American to demonize migrants as the scapegoats for people who are legitimately aggrieved because a globalized economy may have passed them by in their factory town.”
Camerota then tried to get Feeley to say that “the travel ban or the end of the diversity lottery or the chain family migration or the building of the wall” pushed the former U.S. Ambassador to Panama over the edge. He reiterated that the President’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville ultimately led to his resignation, which did not become official until last week.
The anchor closed the interview by saying “we appreciate your candor so thank you for sharing your motivation with us this morning.” It would have come as quite a surprise if CNN had given the same coverage to a disaffected bureaucrat who resigned from the Obama administration.
One would think that Feeley, like Campbell, would make an ideal CNN contributor. Unfortunately for the Clinton News Network, Feeley has already decided to work with Univision on “immigration-themed content.”
CNN New Day
ALISYN CAMEROTA: On his final day as U.S. Ambassador to Panama, John Feeley wrote a scathing op-ed in The Washington Post titled “Why I Could No Longer Serve This President.” He writes, “I resigned because the traditional core values of the United States as manifested in the President’s National Security Strategy and his foreign policies have been warped and betrayed.” Ambassador John Feeley joins us now. Good morning, Mr. Ambassador.
JOHN FEELEY: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Was there a particular breaking point for you?
FEELEY: There was. I was very concerned throughout much of last year that the rhetoric and the policies coming out of the White House were in sharp dissidence to what I had practiced in Latin America for a long time. But quite frankly, it wasn’t anything that had to do with Latin America, it had to do with our own values in the United States. The Charlottesville riots in last August, when those occurred, that was something that shook me deeply. We had overcome in the United States significant structural racism and when the President failed to condemn outright and fully those organizers and the people carrying the tiki torches, I knew that I would not be able to continue serving as his personal representative.
CAMEROTA: And why didn’t you quit in August?
FEELEY: Well, you know, the fact is you can get up and walk away and if you do that, you leave behind a rutterless ship. I, like many career foreign service officers, have spent close to 30 years coming up through the ranks and running an embassy is a lot like being a CEO or being the President of a small company and if you just get up and walk away, you leave a lot of people in the breech. I felt that I had a very strong responsibility to do an orderly transition to ensure that the policies with Panama, my bilateral portfolio, would continue and so that takes some time. It took about three or four months and in the end of December, right around the holidays, I felt that I had done everything I needed to to be able to effect a smooth transition and that’s why I did it.
CAMEROTA: And what about the President’s policies on immigration and how those struck you? I ask because another portion of your op-ed, you discuss that. So let me read it for everyone. You say “As the grandson of migrant, migrant stock from New York City, an Eagle Scout, a Marine Corps veteran and someone who has spent his diplomatic career in Latin America, I am convinced that the President’s policies regarding migration are not only foolish and delusional but also Anti-American.” Such as?
FEELEY: They are anti-American in the sense that immigration has always been the well spring of our nation. I am convinced, like many Americans, that the United States is not just a geographic space on the global map. The United States is more about attitude. It’s more about what you bring to your citizenship or your participation in the United States or, in the case of many migrants, your desire for citizenship. No one is arguing, I certainly wouldn’t argue, that every migrant is that paragon of up by your boot straps and pull yourself ahead through hard work. There are plenty of Americans, native born, who fall into a criminal path and there are migrants as well. But as I said in the article, we know from statistics from the Justice Department, that they represent a significant minority and so therefore, I found that it was and it continues to be anti-American to demonize migrants as the scapegoats for people who are legitimately aggrieved because a globalized economy may have passed them by in their factory town.
CAMEROTA: And so were there moments, I mean, thinking like the travel ban or the end of the diversity lottery or the chain family migration or the building of the wall, or the talk about the wall I should say, that you considered quitting over?
FEELEY: I wish I weren’t here talking about this, Alisyn. I love my career. I felt like I was born to do what I did. So it was very, very difficult and those of who have spent a lot of time in Latin America and who believe that the linkages and the connections to Latin America are enormously important for our economy, for our very demography. Those of us who feel that strongly about it wanted to hang on. I wanted to hang on but I got to a point, as I said, when the President failed to condemn the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville where I just couldn’t continue to say “I think the President’s words speak for themselves.” That’s not being his personal representative. That’s not being his ambassador and I felt that I was honor bound to resign.
CAMEROTA: Do you think you’re a lone voice or do you have colleagues who feel the way you do and do you think there will be other exits?
FEELEY: Well, there already have been another of exits. You know, I never intended for my exit to be public. I’m here speaking with you because the Administration leaked my resignation letter to the President, which was a private letter, which was given to the White House back in December. It was upon the leaking of that letter that I realized I had to step up.
CAMEROTA: Well, we appreciate your candor so thank you for sharing your motivation with us this morning. Best of luck, Ambassador John Feeley.