Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a press conference Wednesday that he called Shirley Sherrod to extend his apology and to offer her a “unique position” at the USDA dealing with civil rights.

The secretary asked Sherrod for her resignation this week after online video emerged of her comments about race. The remarks were later to be found taken out of context. 

Vilsack described Sherrod as being “extraordinarily gracious” but she asked for several days to think about the offer. 

The secretary took full responsibility for the decision and denied that he received pressure from the White House to call Sherrod and that he has not spoken with the president about the matter. 

“I did not think before I acted, and for that reason, this poor woman has gone through a difficult time,” he said. “There was no pressure from the White House, I want to make sure everyone understands this was my decision, and I regret having made it in haste.”

Vilsack did not go into detail about the new position that he offered to Sherrod, but said that “as a result of that experience, she has a unique set of skills in assisting USDA in turning the page on our civil rights chapter, which has been difficult.”

Vilsack said that he asked for Sherrod’s resignation only after seeing a transcript of the clipped video while he was traveling. 

“This is a good woman, she has been put through hell,” he said. “I could have done and should have done a better job. I have learned from this experience, the whole department can learn from this experience. ... The buck stops with me, as it should.”

Vilsack said that changes will be made at the USDA, specifically regarding a “a more deliberative process” regarding personnel decisions.