Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE on Sunday night blamed the "Fake News" for "saying with certainty" that Nick Ayers would be his new chief of staff, adding that he would be picking his replacement for John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE shortly.

His tweet came as reports emerged that Ayers would not serve as the outgoing White House chief of staff's successor, even though he was reportedly Trump's first pick for the job.  

"I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff," Trump tweeted. "Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda."

"I will be making a decision soon!" the president added. 

A White House official earlier in the day confirmed that Ayers, a Republican operative and chief of staff to Vice President Pence, would not serve as Trump's chief of staff following widespread speculation that he would.
 
Ayers instead plans to leave the administration at year's end to work for a pro-Trump super PAC.   

The president wanted Ayers to make a long-term commitment to the job, but the aide would not commit to anything more than an interim role, said a person familiar with the situation.

Four candidates are now favored to succeed Kelly when he leaves at the end of the year: outgoing House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill MORE (R-N.C.), White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit On The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency House rebukes Mulvaney's efforts to rein in consumer bureau MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE,  and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, according to multiple reports.
 
The president announced on Saturday that Kelly would leave his post as chief of staff by the end of the year, following months of reports out of the White House that Kelly was eyeing the exit.
 
"Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House," Ayers wrote on Twitter. "I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause."