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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles 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 MeadowsConservative leader Meadows condemns King comments 'in strongest sense' Republicans request update on investigation into ex-FBI official accused of leaks Hopes fade for bipartisan bills in age of confrontation MORE (R-N.C.), White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Former PepsiCo CEO being considered for World Bank chief post: report Ivanka Trump to help pick new World Bank president, but will not be one of the candidates MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war 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."