White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu to depart

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Lu has worked with Obama since the president first won his Senate seat in 2004, and has known Obama since their years together at Harvard Law School. In Obama's Senate office, Lu worked as legislative director and acting chief of staff, a position he left to serve as executive director of the Obama-Biden transition team.

President Obama hinted in his farewell statement that he is hoping to bring his longtime aide back into the fold after a short retirement from government service. 

"I have asked Chris to consider other opportunities to serve in my administration, and after he enjoys some time off, I hope he will consider those opportunities," Obama said. "I know I speak on behalf of the entire Cabinet in thanking Chris for his friendship and exceptional service to our nation.” 

In addition to working for Obama's Senate staff, Lu worked for eight years as deputy chief counsel of the House Government Reform Committee. He also worked briefly on Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) presidential campaign.

Lu, an Asian-American whose parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, represents another high-level minority departure from President Obama's first-term team. Asked about the departures — and subsequent appointment of a number of white men — at a press conference earlier this month, Obama urged skeptics to wait until his Cabinet and staff had turned over completely.

"I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they’ve seen all my appointments, who is in the White House staff and who is in my Cabinet, before they rush to judgment," Obama said.