In the latest act of an inauguration-during-a-pandemic weirdness, President Joe Biden on Wednesday swore in nearly 1,000 new appointees to his administration during a giant Zoom call, complete with a big workplace warning.
The president told his new administration — including White House staff and agency workers — that anyone caught being disrespectful to a colleague would be immediately fired.
"I'm not joking when I say this," Biden said. "If you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, [or] talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot."
"No ifs, ands, or buts," the president added. "Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That's been missing in a big way the last four years."
Former president Donald Trump was known for his outbursts, which often unfolded on Twitter with public insults directed to appointees he had personally chosen.
In contrast, Biden spoke about how the new staff he was swearing in needed "to restore the soul of this country."
Kathy McGettigan, the chief management officer at the Office of Personnel Management, introduced the nearly 1,000 new employees to Biden and the world, although only a few dozen faces could be seen in the small video chat window.
“Some of you have worked in government before and thought perhaps your days of service were behind you until finding yourselves in this moment of national need," McGettigan said. "Others have never worked in government and will bring new perspectives to the work that lies ahead."
“Some of you are the first in your family to graduate college," she added. "You are veterans who have worn our nation's uniform. You are the daughters and sons of immigrants, or you're immigrants yourselves."
Biden asked the Zoom call attendees to raise their right hand as he swore them in to their new roles, their hands visible in the video call, although they were all muted.
"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," Biden told them. "Remember — people don't work for us, we work for the people."