Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to staffers: "I will fire you on the spot" for disrespecting others

Photo of Joe Biden speaking to a screen filled with faces of incoming staffers and appointees

President Biden conducts a virtual swearing in ceremony for members of his new administration via Zoom. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

President Biden warned dozens of staffers and appointees Wednesday to treat everyone with respect, or else “I will fire you on the spot.

What he's saying: Everyone, regardless of their background, is "entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years," Biden said at the virtual swearing-in ceremony for incoming administrators. "I expect you to do that for all the folks you deal with."

  • "I’m not joking when I say this: If you’re 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," he added. "On the spot. No ifs or buts."
  • He also emphasized that as government officials, they work for the people.

The big picture: Biden's comments reinforce his vision of unity and equity for the U.S. as expressed in his inauguration address earlier in the day — starting with his very own administration.

What to watch: Biden signed an order on Wednesday launching a "whole-of-government" initiative designed to root out systemic racism and prioritize equity across the federal government.

Go deeper: Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

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