December 5th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
8 months ago

Obama lived with Kenyan uncle prior to law school, White House says

Update 7:12 p.m. ET, 12/6/2013

(CNN) - The White House clarified Thursday that President Barack Obama did live with his Kenyan uncle in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a "brief period of time" before attending Harvard Law School in the 1980s after previously saying there was no record of the two ever meeting.

The clarification comes amid GOP criticism over the issue of Obama’s honesty and trustworthiness, two personal traits the president has taken a hit on in recent polls.

Obama apologizes for health coverage cancellations due to Obamacare

Onyango Okech Obama, President Obama's uncle, was granted permission Tuesday by a federal immigration judge to stay in the United States, where he has lived illegally for the past five decades. In his testimony before the judge, Obama's uncle mentioned that then-student Obama had stayed with him for three weeks after he was accepted into law school.

The White House was asked about their relationship in 2011 at which time the administration said there was no record of the President and Onyango Okech Obama having ever met. Carney retracted that information Thursday saying that the President himself had never been consulted about their relationship.

"Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the President's book, and there was no evidence that they had met. And that was what was conveyed. Nobody spoke to the President," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"When Omar Obama said the other day and there were reports that he had said the other day that President Obama, back when he was a law school student, had stayed with him in Cambridge, I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him."

Carney continued: "Nobody had asked him in the past, and the President said that he in fact had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school and that he stayed with him for a brief period of time until his, the President's, apartment was ready."

Carney said after that period, Obama and his uncle "saw each other once every few months while the President was in Cambridge" but eventually "fell out of touch."

The White House said they had no record that the President had met his relative after his uncle was arrested for drunk driving in 2011. The driving violation brought to light Onyango Okech Obama's illegal status, and he was then ordered to regularly check in with immigration.

"The President has not seen Omar Obama in 20 years, and has not spoken with him in roughly 10 years," Carney said, adding that Obama had "absolutely zero" involvement in his relative's deportation case.

Onyango Okech Obama isn't the first of the President's relatives to have issues with immigration status. Onyango Okech Obama's sister, Zeituni Onyango, was granted permission to stay in the United States in 2010 after a six-year-plus legal battle over her status.

While the immigration court was considering Zeituni Onyango's case in 2009, then-White House spokesman Ben Labolt said Obama would stay out of his aunt's immigration case and "the president believes that the case should run its ordinary course."

It seems that Onyango Okech Obama's appearance and mention of his nephew's stay before law school in immigration court earlier this week was what prompted the White House to take measures to correct the record.

The administration's initial denial that the President had met his uncle and subsequent reversal of the record raises speculation that Onyango Okech Obama's court appearances and immigration status first led the White House to distance the President from the controversy and deliver misleading information.

The President is already facing questions about his credibility after technological issues and reports of canceled insurance plans plagued the recent rollout of parts of Obamacare, the sweeping healthcare reform law passed in his first term. A CNN/ORC International survey released last month indicates that 53% of Americans now believe that Obama is not honest and trustworthy, the first time that a clear majority in CNN polling has felt that way.

The reversal over details of Obama's relationship with his uncle could prove to be another detriment to Obama's credibility with the public.

Obama: People do think I'm trustworthy

And Republicans say the White House's change of story indicates a lack of trustworthiness in the President.

"It just goes back to this thing of the White House not being completely forthright with facts with the public. It's what's contributed to his trustworthiness numbers going way down," said Republican Strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro said Friday.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Obama has been "lying to the American people."

"He's been exposed. And these little lies, like, you know, lying about whether you met someone or not that's been significant in your life - listen, those are big things because it goes to the character of the person that you're dealing with," he said Thursday on Fox News.

"And President Obama is proving himself not to be trustworthy on the small things and now the very big things."

Obama attended Harvard Law School beginning in 1988 when he was 28 after serving as a community organizer in Chicago.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (1,714 Responses)
  1. Truth

    Headline: "Obama lies yet again."

    December 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Ralph

    What a surprise – another lie from this president.

    December 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. dave

    Another day another lie. This admin is a joke

    December 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. WV Gleeman

    At first I wanted to ask if half of the commentors actually read the article but I then realized who I was talking to. The President did not say he had not lived with his Uncle. That's the part of the story it seems that people are not getting or ready or something. The problem lies between the staffers that answer many questions on the Presidents behave not verify their information in the correct manner. Was a law broken or are we just so infatuated with Obama that we look for anything that we can find to talk about?

    December 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Bob

    Gee, Obama is a lair. Nothing new here.

    December 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. southerngent

    Just a little lie. YOU CAN KEEP YOU PLAN not only a big lie but a big (not allowed to say ) to AMERICA!

    December 6, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. MSNBC is hot garbage

    More lies and deceit.

    Plausible deniability. Did the POTUS read the press briefing in 2011? If he knew it was untrue and no one asked him about it, does he not have a duty to clarify the record completely?

    It was a politically expedient statement by the WH, and BHO did not want to clear the record.

    This story goes more to show the POTUS does not care about honesty and transparancy, only the continued lies and deceit to advance his progressive agenda.

    December 6, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. deseon

    the white house staff has more important things to do and the president of the UNITED STATES! has better things to do than to personally answer every little pithy question that they come across! get a grip republicans.

    December 6, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Crashman

    I'm so glad Republican presidents have never lied. Otherwise they'd be called hypocrites for criticizing Obama.

    December 6, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. LL

    Cue right-wing "Kenyan colonialism" shouting. Yes, I agree: it's curious this news came out now, but what family doesn't have members they'd like to disown? It's clear Obama is an introspective, self-reliant guy, so don't make anymore of this than what it is: a discarded relative coming out of the woodwork because of media scrutiny.

    December 6, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. joeazona

    the dirt always comes out on Fridays..

    December 6, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Lola

    "Carney continued: "Nobody had asked him in the past, and the President said that he in fact had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school and that he stayed with him for a brief period of time until his, the President's, apartment was ready."

    ----

    Watch the lunatic teas go nuts.

    It's incredibly entertaining.

    December 6, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. ryanwin

    Not only was this a cover up attempt to hide the fact that Obama covered for an illegal immigrant, they are now trying to say after all this time, that it was simply not discussed. Yeah right! Obama screens everything his spokesman says, and if anything is incorrect, he's had more than ample time to come back and set things right. What a disgrace.

    December 6, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. Badly-Bent

    Gee, I guess 50 years ago it must have been easy to come here illegally?

    December 6, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Stimpy

    I guess most of you didn't read this part....

    "Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the President's book, and there was no evidence that they had met. And that was what was conveyed. Nobody spoke to the President," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

    "When Omar Obama said the other day and there were reports that he had said the other day that President Obama, back when he was a law school student, had stayed with him in Cambridge, I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him."

    Carney continued: "Nobody had asked him in the past, and the President said that he in fact had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school and that he stayed with him for a brief period of time until his, the President's, apartment was ready."

    ..reading comprehension FAIL....

    December 6, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Friends

    Whoopsie, I got caught in another lie, Just admit it and move on.....again.....and again.

    December 6, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Tom

    Whether it's a matter of being wrong or lying, there's definitely a pattern here.

    December 6, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Badly-Bent

    Gee, I guess 50 years ago it must have been easy to come here not-legally?

    December 6, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Dejavu

    II am not concerned about whether he lived with his uncle or not but about why did they lie...small or big, lie is a lie...

    December 6, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. James

    I believe that the Bush administration did get it wrong regarding WMD's They admitted they where wrong and the Republicans and Americans paid a big price for the error. Being wrong and lying are two different things. Looking back, I'm so glad we did take out Saddam, even if it was from faulty British information. We paid a massive price to do it, but it might just pay off in the future. Imagine the Middle East today with Saddam still in power. Our presence in Iraq is a good thing as is our presence in Korea.

    December 6, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. lolol

    "Let me be clear", "No one is as mad as I am right now about this." "I've got a team working around the clock to fix this and it will be fixed" "oh we're not talking about Obamacare.gov now?" "If I had a son he would look like my Uncle!"

    December 6, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Antiqueflowergirl

    RoboKnuckle got it right...He's the president of the United States. Don't Lie, Period.

    December 6, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. js65

    When your life is a lie, you keep lying to keep going. Eventually, you are found out. Is this the Manchurian candidate?
    Who is this man? We can prove very little about him.

    December 6, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Grumpster

    Where's Trump? That blowhard ought to be along any minute to bring up all that birther stuff again.

    December 6, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Bob

    If you believe they never asked the president and he did not see the article and did not talk to his team, I have a bridge to sell you

    December 6, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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