December 5th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
1 year 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. JesterX

    I'm an Obama supporter but this lie is simply implausible. His staff wouldn't have known anything about his relationship with his uncle EITHER WAY. How would they know to say the President never met the man without asking him. Someone HAD to have asked him.

    December 6, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. liberal disease

    George i am living a lie ,just one? i am living like 20!!

    December 6, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Durka Durka

    For anyone wondering why this is such a big deal, it proves the White House tells the public selective pieces of information and anything deemed not acceptable for disclosure is kept quiet and secretive. This is like the teenager who you suspect is sneaking out or doing other activities they shouldn't be telling you how something went down, only to retract their story or change it completely. This is deceptive and unacceptable from an administration that promised to be transparent and open.

    Spin and mitigate it all you want, the fact remains that the WH is only telling the public half the story while either keeping the rest in the dark or outright lying and then, when called out on it, changing their story. Yes, lying is nothing new for politics, but people should expect better from Obama. For someone who claims to be honest and fight for the middle class, he sure behaves just like other corrupt politicians.

    December 6, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Scorpio61

    Well you know there is a don't ask don't tell polacy in affect.O sorry wrong subject.lol

    December 6, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. njudgemental

    Does anyone really believe that the administration did not talk to the president after his illegal alien uncle’s arrest for drunk driving came to national news in 2011? The political implications of that arrest were potentially enormous and I am sure they had a Powwow in the white house to control the fall out. What they did not expect was the uncle to tell the truth, something the obama administration does not understand.

    December 6, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Jack 2

    Obama lives by the lies. it makes me wonder how much more lied about and what else we don't know about him.

    December 6, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Erik

    Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim.

    December 6, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Chris

    Another lie huh. Obama, the lying president, that's what he will be remembered for. The first black president that was also the biggest liar of a president in US history.
    I suspect a lot more "corrections" to lies he has stated will come out as time goes on.

    December 6, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Loki II

    White House retracts again..."President Obama lived in Kenya with uncle".

    December 6, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. jowl

    Cannot stand this President.

    December 6, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Patrick Portland

    OMG – the lies just keep coming. Now you know why folks question where he was born; is the so-called Hawaii birth certificate; no record of his college records available publicly. This guy is just one big lie and really should be impeached.

    December 6, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. goldminetown

    He has to create new lie to cover the old ones.

    December 6, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    malarkey

    December 6, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Phil

    Did you ever think that his white house staff may not have asked him the question because they thought he would be politically embarrassed by the answer? The president living with an illegal alien? Never mind that he was a poor college student at the time and couldn't afford a 3 week hotel bill in Cambridge. If I were the press secretary I would not ask the president either. He answered the question perfectly- "there is no record...." They get paid to watch out after the guy's interests. And if you think that is any different from any other administration you don't know presidential history very well.

    By the way- don't you have any relatives you aren't proud to claim?

    December 6, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. PeterD

    You Lied Mr. President AGAIN. Lying Hits a New Low in His Administration under His Watch.

    December 6, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Chris

    Uh.................... Who Cares?

    December 6, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Susan

    Obama: I didn't know.....

    December 6, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. spowle01

    Wow, this White House must think we are a much of idiots!

    December 6, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Not that it matters

    It's funny the truth comes out AFTER he won the 2012 election. I really doubt his staff just answered on his behalf without EVER consulting him, but then again, his staff has been known to do some pretty dumb things.

    If its true his staff answered without ever asking him, I have to wonder how he picked his staff. Wouldn't one want to be surrounded by people smarter than him?

    It seems too often his staff is rogue and just do/say whatever they want without consulting their supervisor.

    December 6, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. tidding wright

    Enough already its simply time to impeach for being incompetent.

    December 6, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Due_Process

    He lied again. PERIOD!

    December 6, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Not that it matters

    It's funny the truth comes out AFTER he won the 2012 election. I really doubt his staff just answered on his behalf without EVER consulting him, but then again, his staff has been known to do some pretty dumb things.

    If its true his staff answered without ever asking him, I have to wonder how he picked his staff. Wouldn't one want to be surrounded by people smarter than him? It seems too often his staff is rogue and just do/say whatever they want without consulting their supervisor.

    December 6, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. Terri McNeelis

    Well, at least his aunt thinks this is a great country, as opposed to the opinion of Michelle Obama! We Americans have been duped.

    December 6, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. ccampa

    I do remember this more as published on deaf republican ears...Here is the excerpt from a report as it read at the time.
    George Bush Sr. and bin Laden Sr. are long-standing business partners. George Bush Sr. and the bin Laden family are on the board of the Carlyle Group, a large defense contractor. The bin Laden family financed George Bush Jr.'s early failed businesses

    December 6, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Dean

    Has this person ever told the truth about anything?

    December 6, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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