When swearing in his appointees on day one of his presidency, President Joe Biden had a stern and honest message to the almost 1,000 people that will be working with him over the next four years: respect others.
"But I am not joking when I say this, if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect... talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot," the 46th president of the United States said on Wednesday. "On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts. Everybody... everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That's been missing in a big way the last four years."
"I'm confident you have the capacity to do it," he later added. "We're gonna be judged. We are gonna be judged whether or not we restore the integrity and competency in this government... I need your help badly."
"We have to restore the soul of this country, and we're counting on all of you to be part of that. It's not hyperbole. The only thing I expect with absolute certitude is honesty and decency — the way you treat one another, the way you treat the people you deal with. And I mean that sincerely," he said.
"Remember: The people don't work for us. We work for the people. I work for the people. They pay my salary. They pay your salary. They put their faith in you. I put my own faith in you. And so we have an obligation," Biden said.
The ceremony happened virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic with his remarks being delivered from the state dining room in the White House. Prior to his stern warning, Biden, 78, thanked the appointees' families for the upcoming sacrifices they will make so their loved ones can serve this nation.
"I know you," he said. "I know your heart, your dedication, your commitment to this nation. And I know you can do it and we're going to do it by leading with one core American value: humility and trust, collegiality, diversity, competency and family. And I wanna thank your family for the sacrifices."
Later, Biden admitted that he is going to make mistakes, but that he will need the help of those working with him to not only fix them but also being accountable when they make them.
"I'm gonna make mistakes," he said. "When I make them I am going to acknowledge them. I'll tell you. I will need your help to help me correct them. We're not gonna walk away. We're gonna take responsibility. That's what we do."
After taking office on Wednesday, Biden signed more than a dozen executive actions, including measures to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change, repeal Trump's restrictions on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, stop construction of the Southern border wall and mandate the wearing of masks on federal property.