Biden Oath

Biden says he'll fire White House staff if they don't treat each other with respect

Biden Inauguration

President Joe Biden listens during a virtual swearing in ceremony of political appointees from the State Dining Room of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. 

President Joe Biden warned new White House employees he would terminate them if he found them trashing one another.

Making explicit he wanted to break with the toxic environment that pervaded the West Wing during the previous administration, Biden said he wanted his staff governed by collegiality and respect.

“If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treating another colleague with disrespect, talking down to someone, I will fire you on the spot," Biden said in the State Dining Room during a ceremony swearing-in officials.

He said he wanted his staff to treat each other with decency, something he said had "been missing a big way the past four years."

Earlier in the ceremony, Biden said he wanted his staff to treat everyone with "dignity."

"History measures us and our fellow Americans…by how decent, honorable and smart we have been in looking out for their interests," he said.

US Sen. Tom Carper calls inauguration 'one for the record books'

"Oh my god, it was one for the record books," said U.S. Senator tom Carper. "A healing environment, and Joe was at the top of his game...it was just a terrific day."

Carper said Biden's trip to church that morning with Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and other leaders helped start that healing process, and he hopes that momentum carries on for as long as possible.

"We've been divided for way too long," Carper said. "This is a chance to start building some bridges, and seeing how we can work together. And there's really any number of things we can work on together coming right out of the starting gate."

Carper pointed to transportation and infrastructure works he'd like to see progress, and called Biden a "uniter."

"He's a uniter, not a divider. He treats people with respect, he's what I call a 'golden rule' guy, treat other people where you want to be treated. And he leads by example. He will set a good example of how we can work together, should work together...I think we'll get the right kind of leadership from our new president, and we're anxious to get to work. There is a common agenda with a lot of stuff that we can agree on coming out of the starting gate. And my hope is we'll do that. We'll do that."

Biden signs 'bold' actions in first appearance in Oval Office

biden signing actions

President Joe Biden signs his first executive order in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. 

President Joe Biden told reporters he is signing "bold" executive actions during his first appearance in the Oval Office.

"There’s no time to start like today," Biden told reporters.

He said these actions are meant to keep his promises to the American people.

"We’re going to need legislation for a lot of the things," Biden said.

Biden planned to take 15 executive actions and two agency actions during his first hours in office, moving faster and more aggressively to dismantle his predecessor's legacy than any other modern president.

Biden will sign a flurry of executive orders, memoranda and directives to agencies, making his first moves to address the coronavirus pandemic and undo some of Donald Trump's signature policies.

"This is going to be the first of many engagements we’re going to have in here," Biden told reporters, appearing for the first time in the Oval Office. "I thought with the state of the nation today there’s no time to waste. Get to work immediately."

Biden signed an order requiring masks on federal property, one meant to ensure racial equality and another rejoining the Paris climate accord.

Biden said they would be the first of many during his first days in office.

"As we indicated earlier we’re going to be signing a number of executive orders over the next several days to week," he said.

"Some of the executive actions that I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis and combat climate change in ways we haven’t done so far," he went on.

He called the moves "starting points" that fulfilled his promises during the campaign.

"I think some of the things we’re going to be doing are going to be bold and vital and there's no time to start like today," he said. "There’s a long way to go. These are just executive actions," he went on. "But we’re going to need legislation for a lot of these we’re going to do."

Delaware's Governor John Carney describes 'glorious day' for Biden's inauguration

"It was a glorious day for Delaware, and for our country, in Washington today," said Governor John Carney, who was i n attendance in DC for the Biden/Harris inauguration. 

"It was amazing today, of course. The last three inaugurations, they're usually very festive. A lot of bipartisanship, there was some of that today, but the outgoing president, the incoming president, are there the transition of power, very symbolic, very triumphant, the survival of our democracy, kind of putting our differences aside for a day. Everybody's hopeful and optimistic," Carney said. "And our own favorite son brought that to the podium today. His speech was--he just killed it. Knocked it out of the park, the themes and the messages of hope, reconciliation, healing the divisions between us. That doesn't say, 'we're going to always agree, but we need to move together as Democrats and Republicans as Americans. it really was very uplifting, and it got a lot better than it did back in 2009."

Carney called a unified approach to politics the "Delaware Way," and was certain that's what Biden would bring to nation's highest office. 

"I certainly hope it's a harbinger for the future, a good one. I believe that it is. That's really what Joe represents. He was born for this moment, if you will. That's the way he's always approached politics. It's kind of the Delaware Way. At the end of the day, after elections, we put our differences aside--we don't forget about them, but we come together to find the best solutions for our state," he said. "You could just feel the sincerity in what he was saying to people on both sides of the aisle. Whether you voted for him or you didn't vote for him, he's the president of everybody here in the United States of America. It was just a really powerful, uplifting, hopeful message today. And a dramatic change from what we've seen over the last four years--which frankly, has been, I think, depressing for most of us."

For Delaware, Carney said it just brings an overwhelming sense of pride for the recognition he brings to the First State. 

"Everybody recognizes that, when you talk about Wilmington, Delaware, now they know what you're talking about," Carney said. "You're talking about the home of the President of the United States, and that's an important part of it. But it's just an incredibly uplifting thing for all of us, for the stake of our political climate, the way most of us here in Delaware approach governing and certainly, it's the style that Joe brought to the podium today."

Biden visited the Oval Office for the first time as president, while Harris arrived at Capitol for swearing-in of new senators

Harris swearing new Senators in

President Joe Biden is in the Oval Office for the first time since being sworn in, according to the White House official. One of the first things President Biden will see when he sits down in the Oval Office for the first time today is a letter left there by his predecessor.

A former White House official said former President Trump left his departure note for Biden on the Resolute Desk, given that's the same place Barack Obama had left his.

Kamala Harris left the White House for the Senate floor, visiting for the first time since becoming vice president. She swore in three senators: Georgia’s Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, as well as Harris’ replacement in California, Alex Padilla.

The swearing-in of the three new senators will be groundbreaking. Warnock and Ossoff will be the first Black and first Jewish senators, respectively, representing Georgia, while Padilla will be California's first Latino senator.

Ossoff, 33, will also be the youngest senator in the chamber, and the youngest Democrat to serve in the Senate since President Joe Biden, who was sworn into the chamber at the age of 30 in 1973.

After Warnock, Ossoff and Padilla are sworn in, the party breakdown of the Senate will be 50-50. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer will become the first New Yorker and first Jewish lawmaker to become Senate majority leader.

Harris will wield power as the Senate's crucial tie-breaking vote, helping the Biden administration confirm its appointments and giving Democrats the gavels of committees in charge of holding oversight hearings and crafting far-reaching legislation.

Biden participates in signing ceremony at Capitol

Biden Signs

President Biden signed three documents while in the President’s Room at the Capitol.

These are the documents he’s signing:

  • Inauguration Day Proclamation
  • Nominations to Cabinet Positions
  • Nominations to sub-Cabinet Positions

Following this signing ceremony, Biden, hosted by the Commander of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, will review the readiness of military troops on the East front of the Capitol. Every branch of the military will be represented in this event.

Biden will then travel to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Bidens will be joined by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.

US Sen. Chris Coons congratulates Biden and Harris

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"President Joe Biden, grounded by faith and family and love for country, assumes our nation's highest office at a moment of enormous challenge and significant possibility," said Coons, who was in attendance, in a released statement. "President Biden, a man who knows tragedy and pain and how to grieve and mourn and get back up, is the right man to lead us through this moment. All of us here in Delaware, who know him, support him, and believe in him, stand proudly with our president, the favorite son of the First State."

To WDEL Wednesday afternoon, Coons said Biden's visions for the future of this great nation are clear and hopeful. 

"It was a glorious day, and Joe Biden gave a stirring inaugural address on a sunny afternoon," he said. "He is clear eyed about just how great the challenges are that he faces from a pandemic--it's ravaging our country and has killed 400,000 people--to the racial divides that led to protests nationwide last summer, to the more than 10 million Americans who are unemployed. But he challenged us to look back at the moments in our history where we had to overcome comparable challenges, and to look forward to how much we could accomplish together if we would move past this moment of national division."

To bring unity to the country, Coons said, would be challenging, but if there's a man with the experience and heart to handle the job, it's Biden. 

"It'll be challenging, it will not be easy at all. If there is anyone who can get this done, it's the man who served Delaware for 36 years, and is Barack Obama's vice president," Coons said. "Joe Biden was elected because millions of Americans see in him someone who can deliver a compassionate and competent response to the pandemic...Someone who's never forgotten where he's from, who fights for the middle class, and someone who is an authentic and caring human being capable of bringing people together, by being able to walk a mile in other people's shoes."

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US Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester congratulates Biden and Harris

"We all know 40 years ago that Delaware sent Joe Biden to the Senate, to Washington. But today America has sent him to the White House," the congresswoman said to WDEL Wednesday. "I am just, first of all, so proud; secondly, overjoyed, particularly to have Kamala Harris as our Vice President, knowing that she represents so much and so many. And I believe they will both do such incredibly great things for our country. We need them now more than ever. So today, I am proud, I am excited. I am overjoyed, and I am ready to get to work with them."

She also celebrated how much this means to the small First State.

"I think all of us thought at that moment, how incredible is that, that the Vice President is from Delaware? But to see the journey, and for so many of us in Delaware to have been on that journey with this entire family--I mean Dr. Jill Biden, the entire family, we know them, we see them in Target. We see them at the beach. We know the Biden family, and we know their legacy of service. And so as the governor said, I think all of us are like, could it get better than that? And today, truly, it did."

She said the most important thing moving forward is Biden's message of coming together for unity, because the challenges faced will require it to be overcome. 

"You can't crush a pandemic, you can't get people back to work and help save their businesses, and deal with our racial and justice issues, or the climate, if we don't do it together," Blunt Rochester said. "I think it starts with him setting that tone, as he did. But it requires each and every one of us to play our part in doing that. Even as we go back into session [Thursday] in the House, and we will have to start voting on a package of things such as the President's relief package, to really deal with this pandemic, both the health-side and the economic-side, I think even on issues of infrastructure, you see common ground. But we also have to heal, and that healing comes from also what he mentioned in his speech, which is truth. We have to also have the truth and have accountability. That helps with the healing as well. So I think you always have a honeymoon period. But knowing Joe Biden, knowing Kamala Harris, beyond the honeymoon, they will be working until the last day, eight years from now."

Blunt Rochester, a co-chair of the Inaugural Committee, also said the day went off without a hitch, thanks to some local help. 

 "I have to give great kudos and props to President Tony Allen from Delaware State University, who has been the CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee," she said. "Everything from making sure people are safe to ensuring that we uphold the rich traditions about peaceful transfer of power. I really have to give such credit to the staff and the team and Tony Allen, as well as President Biden's vision for what this day could be. And and so far, so good."

Biden and Harris are two ends of the experience spectrum

Coons1.jpg Biden inauguration

There are obvious differences between President Biden and Vice President Harris (race and gender), but it’s really worth thinking how different they are in terms of their political background.

Biden has waited forever for this moment. He first ran for president more than 30 years ago. He was first elected to the Senate nearly 50 years ago.

Harris’ trek to the vice presidency was much shorter in political life. She was elected attorney general of California only 10 years ago. Harris came to the Senate just four years ago.

It’s one of the most lopsided differences in favor of the president in terms of electoral experience for any president and vice president.

Usually, presidents choose vice presidents who have more experience than they do (e.g. Trump and Pence or Obama and Biden).

You probably have to go all the way back to the Nixon/Agnew administration to see an instance of a president having so much more elected experience than the vice resident.

It’ll be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out this time around.

White House inauguration

The White House the morning of Joe Biden's Inauguration in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021.  

Biden's inauguration has ended

The inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up.

President Joe Biden tweeted from the @POTUS account for the first time following the inauguration ceremony, writing: “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face.”

He continued: “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”

There will be an inaugural parade — although it will be largely a virtual one. Biden and Harris will have a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House including the US Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard and the commander in chief’s Guard and Fife Drum Corps. The drumlines from the University of Delaware and Howard University will join that event to honor the alma maters of the incoming president and vice president.

The parade will be hosted by “Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn and will feature comedian Jon Stewart, New Radicals and DJ Cassidy’s “Pass the Mic” with performances by Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, The Washington Chorus and The Triumph Baptist Church Choir.

An Inauguration Poem read by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman 

Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, delivered a message of the country’s resilience through her poem at President Biden’s inauguration ceremony.

“We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will become the future,” she continued.

Typically, Gorman, who is 22 years old, said it takes her days to craft a new poem. She finished this one immediately.

“We will rebuild, reconcile and recover,” Gorman said in the poem.

Gorman is no stranger to grand stages. She’s recited her poetry at the Library of Congress, Boston’s Symphony Hall, the Empire State Building’s observation deck and all across the country, performing for such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Gorman started writing poems when she was a child, but found it terrifying to perform due to a speech impediment. Biden has struggled with a stutter, Gorman said, and another inauguration poet Maya Angelou – who delivered the poetry reading for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration – was mute for several years when she was a child.

Twitter accounts have been transferred

Biden: "The will of the people has been heard"

Biden Will of the People

After taking the oath of office, Joe Biden said that the Inauguration Day was a celebration of democracy and that the “the will of the people has been heard.”

As Joe Biden is set to officially become President at noon ET, he called today “America’s day” in his speech at the US Capitol.

“This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve,” Biden said.

“America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge,” he added.

He said the “cause of democracy” is celebrated today.

“The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded,” Biden said.

President Joe Biden thanked his predecessors from “both parties” in his inauguration remarks to the nation, including those who couldn’t be present.

“I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart… And I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night, who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime in service,” Biden said.

He acknowledged the power that comes with taking the “sacred oath” that was taken by former presidents.

“I have just taken a sacred oath each of those patriots taken. The oath first sworn by Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On we, the people, who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation. We are good people,” Biden said.

Biden offered a forewarning during his inaugural address Wednesday, describing the nation as weathering a “winter of peril” amid a generational pandemic and other ailments.

Biden said the predicaments currently facing the nation were historic, and said few Americans “have found a time more challenging than the time we are in now.”

He said coronavirus “silently stalks the country” and noted more lives have been lost to the disease than were lost in World War I.

He also talked about the importance of unifying the country, saying “my whole soul is in this.”

The President called on Americans to come together to overcome the extraordinary challenges that face the nation – an idea that he often mentioned on the campaign trail

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words and requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity,” Biden said.

“Uniting to fight the foes we face. Anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity we can do great things, important things,” he added.

He said that through tough times in US history — the Civil War, the Great Depression, both world wars and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — “our better angels have always prevailed.”

Biden said that in every instance, Americans have been able to come together for the greater good.

“History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity,” Biden said.

Referencing the current plight of America Biden noted that the country has “much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”

As the coronavirus American death toll surpassed 400,000 this week, Biden noted that “few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now.”

Speaking specifically of the Covid-19 pandemic, Biden referenced a “once-in-a-century virus, that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.”

But amid tones of pain and strife, as “millions of jobs have been lost,” and there exists a “cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making,” Biden offered signs of hope.

Calling for a fresh start, Biden said the country is experiencing a “historic moment of crisis and challenge.”

“For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward,” he said. “Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another.”

He discouraged against the culture of “total war” in policy-making and the manipulation of facts.

“My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And I believe America is so much better than this,” he said. .

Evoking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous speech, “I have a dream” and the women protesting for a right to vote, Biden sounded an optimistic note about change.

Joe Biden pledged to be a “president for all Americans,” including those who did not support his campaign at his inauguration address.

Biden continued: “For all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation’s greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly. Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you. I will be a president for all Americans. All Americans. And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”

Sending a message to the rest of the world about the US, Biden said he's looking forward to working with allies again. 

"Here's my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again," he said, vowing a change from the isolationist policies of his predecessor.

"We'll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security," he added.

Many European leaders have tweeted their congratulations to the new administration and expressed their optimism at working together.

Biden promised to defend America for the “public good.”

“I will defend the Constitution. I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America. And I’ll give all, all of you, keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power, but of possibilities. Not of personal interest, but the public good. And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness,” he said.

He ended on a message for Americans, saying that they met the moment.

“May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires and the stories that tell ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment, democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch but thrived, that America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebearers, one another and generations to follow. With purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustain by faith, driven by conviction and devoted to one another and the country we love with all hearts,” Biden said.

Joe Biden takes the oath of office

Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn-in as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

Kamala Harris takes the oath

Kamala Harris has taken the oath of office.

Harris swearing in

At noon ET, Harris will officially become the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president.

She was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Vice President Mike Pence, standing in for President Donald Trump, was sitting nearby

This followed Lady Gaga performing the US National Anthem with the US marine band, using a golden mic. She had a golden dove-shaped broach pinned to her coat.

Gaga inauguration

Sen. Klobuchar at inauguration welcome: "Today is the day democracy picks itself up"

Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar welcomed attendees and global viewers to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

"This ceremony is the culmination of 244 years of a democracy," Klobuchar said, adding, "It is a moment when leaders brought to the stage by the will of the people promise to be faithful to our Constitution, to cherish it and defend it."

As snow flurries fell on Capitol Hill, Klobuchar referenced the stark contrast to the scene just 14 days prior.

"Two weeks ago, when an angry violent mob staged an insurrection and desecrated this temple of our democracy, it awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans," she stated, adding that today "is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Biden arrives on stage

President-elect Joe Biden was just introduced for his inauguration at the US Capitol and is set to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

He followed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and Supreme Court justices at the event.

Chief Justice John Roberts will swear-in Biden.

Biden fist-bumped with Obama as he passed the former president.

Flights to DC halted until after Biden takes the oath

Commercial flights at Washington Reagan National Airport are halted until after President-Elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA instituted a ground stop from 10:30 a.m. ET to 12:15 p.m. ET for the inauguration, according to FAA data. The agency also issued a bulletin to pilots.

Flights bound for Washington are being held at the origin airport, the FAA said.

Aviation security has been a particular concern leading up Inauguration Day, and the already-secure airspace around Washington, DC, is more secure today. Flights that aren’t commercial, police, or military are being kept outside a 30-mile ring around the district.

In the days before and after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, videos on social media showed passengers harassing flight crews and fellow travelers. The FAA said it would enact a zero-tolerance policy against unruly in-flight behavior by passengers and issue fines of as much as $35,000.

President Trump watched inauguration proceedings on his way to Florida

President Trump kept an eye on the inauguration proceedings on his way to Palm Beach, a person on board the flight tells CNN.

The Trumps walked off Air Force One shortly after Vice President Mike Pence walked in to the ceremony at the US Capitol, where Joe Biden is about to be sworn in.

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Biden, Harris showcase American designers at Inauguration

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are showcasing American designers at their inauguration.

The president-elect is wearing a navy suit and navy overcoat by Ralph Lauren. Jill Biden is wearing an ocean-blue wool tweed coat and dress by American designer Alexandra O’Neill of the Markarian label.

Aides say Harris is wearing Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson. Both are Black designers, Rogers from Louisiana and Hudson from South Carolina.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, wore a Ralph Lauren suit on Wednesday.

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Hero officer who led Capitol insurrectionists away from Senate escorted Harris

A Capitol police officer hailed as a hero for his actions during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is accompanying Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the inauguration of Harris and President-elect Joe Biden.

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CNN's Adrienne Vogt, Kaitlan Collins, Jason Kurtz, Harry Enten, Pete Muntean, and Greg Wallace contributed to this report