The L.A. Times has uncovered emails between Obama administration officials regarding the firing of Shirley Sherrod from the Agriculture Department over statements taken out of context by right wing blogger, Andrew Breitbart.
Hundreds of pages of e-mails released to the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act provide a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at how the Obama administration handled the Sherrod case, an episode that culminated in apologies from both Vilsack and President Obama.
The e-mails, some of which were redacted by the Agriculture Department, do not show whether the White House ordered the dismissal, long a point of speculation. Sherrod has said that when department Deputy Undersecretary Cheryl Cook called and asked her to resign, Cook told her the White House wanted her out, but USDA and White House officials have said the decision was made within the agency.
However, the e-mails suggest the White House was watching with interest. “Just wanted you to know that this dismissal came up at our morning senior staff meeting today,” Christopher Lu, who serves as Obama’s liaison to the Cabinet, wrote to top Agriculture officials early July 20, the morning after Sherrod was ousted. “Everyone complimented USDA on how quickly you took this action,” he wrote, adding that it would stop an “unpleasant story” from getting “traction.” “Thanks for the great efforts.”