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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth 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 MeadowsMeadows, Cotton introduce bill to prevent district judges from blocking federal policy changes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-N.C.), White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Democrats ramp up calls to investigate NOAA MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead 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."