The American ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, a Donald Trump appointee seen as close to far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, said Thursday he had resigned in a letter to current US President Joe Biden.
“It was with mixed emotions that I wrote yesterday to President Biden to inform him of my decision to retire from government service after a 30-year career with the Department of State,” Chapman said in a statement.
Chapman, 59, said he planned to move to Denver, Colorado to be near his family and “pursue new professional opportunities.”
In the post since March 2020, Chapman broadcast US affinity with Bolsonaro’s government on arrival, saying he was proud to shepherd “this alliance that our presidents have spoken so much about.”
Bolsonaro, the politician dubbed the “Tropical Trump,” cultivated a close relationship with the former US president, whom he openly admires.
Chapman faced criticism at times for appearing too close to the Brazilian leader, and to Trump.
On American independence day last year, Chapman hosted Bolsonaro for a barbecue at his residence, where he was photographed in a cowboy hat alongside the Brazilian president, both beaming — without face masks — and flashing a thumbs-up.
The ambassador and numerous embassy staff later had to be tested for Covid-19 when it turned out Bolsonaro, a vocal critic of social distancing policies, was infected with the coronavirus at the time.
Chapman — who tested negative after the episode — also faced an inquiry before the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee last year over reports he violated a law barring federal officials from political activity by telling Brazilian counterparts they could help Trump’s re-election chances by maintaining a tariff exemption on US ethanol imports.
Ethanol is a key export for Iowa, a battleground state in the November 2020 election in which Trump lost to Biden.
US-Brazil relations have taken a turn under Biden, who has been outspoken in urging the Bolsonaro government to do a better job protecting the Amazon rainforest, a vital resource in the race to curb climate change.