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Ex-US ambassador: Being Trump's personal representative became unacceptable

Former US Ambassador to Estonia James D. Melville, Jr. at the US Embassy's Fourth of July reception in Tallinn. July 2018.
Former US Ambassador to Estonia James D. Melville, Jr. at the US Embassy's Fourth of July reception in Tallinn. July 2018. Source: Taavi Prints/US Embassy Tallinn

James D. Melville, Jr., who resigned as US Ambassador to Estonia in July before his successor had been appointed and retired after 33 years in the US Foreign Service, said that he had reached the point where he was no longer comfortable serving as the personal representative of current US President Donald Trump, daily Postimees reports.

In an interview with the paper, Melville said that serving as Ambassador to Estonia was the highlight of his long career as a diplomat. His decision to very conspicuously announce his resignation was not due to seeking attention, but was rather evidence that he was no longer able to remain in his position.

"I knew for a long time that my time in Estonia was limited — especially after the White House formally submitted the candidacy of a successor," he explained. "The entire time that the candidacy of my successor was under consideration, I knew I would be leaving. I also felt that now that the new administration had made a choice regarding my successor, my opinions became less and less important."

When the White House suddenly withdraw the candidacy of his successor, Melville was offered the opportunity to remain in Tallinn. "In some ways like an opening position until the White House finds a new one," he said. "And as you know, several US ambassador positions worldwide are unfilled, so finding and appointing a new ambassador for Tallinn may have taken a year or more to do.

"But the degree of my dissatisfaction was already overshadowing my will to stay," Melville continued. "I had been the US ambassador during the entirety of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union, participated in the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, and attended the White House summit of the US and the Baltic states [on April 3]. It was there that I understood that I had reached a limit: I cannot and do not want to be the personal representative of President Trump."

Melville served as US Ambassador to Estonia from December 2015 through June 2018. He formally left the US Foreign Service earlier this month.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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