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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification 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 MeadowsJordan, Meadows backed by new ads from pro-Trump group: report Trump keeps tight grip on GOP Dems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons MORE (R-N.C.), White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney poised to become permanent White House chief of staff: report Pentagon sends Congress list of projects that could lose funds to Trump's emergency declaration Trump: Media 'working overtime to blame me' for New Zealand attack MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerTrump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks McConnell 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."