Preet Bharara, the esteemed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, refused to accept President Donald Trump's request he tender his resignation, the New York Times reported Saturday.
Shortly thereafter, Bharara posted to his recently created Twitter account saying "I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the U.S. Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life."
Acting Attorney General Dana Boente asked Bharara to resign on Trump's behalf Friday, along with all 45 other holdout U.S. attorneys from Barack Obama's administration.
Bharara, who previously successfully pursued a number of high-profile prosecutions including New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was previously reported to have been asked to stay on by Trump. His termination is likely to result in yet another wave of criticism for the administration; Bharara's assault on a culture of corruption in the New York state capital of Albany made him one of the most respected prosecutors in the country.
Another bizarre dimension to the case was noted by New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman on Twitter. As Sherman noted, Bharara's office is reportedly probing right-wing media giant Fox News on its structuring of settlement claims by ex-staffers, and at the top of the short list to replace Bharara is Marc Mukasey, former Fox News chief Roger Ailes' onetime attorney.
While Ailes and Trump reportedly had a falling out last year, Fox News owner and acting CEO Rupert Murdoch has been pushing the network in a more openly pro-Trump direction, Sherman reported, and Murdoch and Trump often speak on the phone.
Fox News personality Sean Hannity also exhorted Trump to fire Obama-era holdouts, specifically citing U.S. attorneys, shortly before the president made the call.