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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America 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."

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"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 MeadowsTrump to return to Florida for rescheduled SpaceX launch Pence names new press secretary House leaders take vote-counting operations online MORE (R-N.C.), White House budget director Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House 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."