December 5th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
12 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. tidding wright

    And if it turns out he's not a us citizen should be removed from office immediately

    December 6, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. The REAL TRUTH...

    @Erik – Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim
    -----------------------
    regardless... duly elected POTUS.. TWICE !!

    December 6, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. The Tax Man

    I wonder who is keeping track of all the Obama lies at the White House? Surely not Jay Carney as he seems to be "out of the loop" on so many of the lies. Perhaps Holder is the "keeper of lies" and has a large "lie board" in a secret room that they can refer to when needed. Hard to keep them all straight with so many players and so many previous sound bytes.

    December 6, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Democrat

    Liar liar pants on fire!

    December 6, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. ParadigmSlayer

    Another day and another OBAMA LIE

    What else is new!

    December 6, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. NameEdoggy

    Really folks, is this a bigger lie than let's say, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What about let's say, my father and bin ladens father were doing business together before 9/11. Tell us something that's relevant. Who gives a rats ass where Obama lived prior to law school.

    December 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. jon wilson

    Had enough yet?

    December 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. jcvet33

    This administration is unbelievable. They lie about absolutely everything.

    December 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Joe Casey

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Are they pathological liars over there? Even something as simple as this becomes a scandal, when are they going to learn; in Washington it's the cover-up cover-up. I'm happy for his uncle, but not for our country, the day he leaves we need to call Servpro and give the peoples house a good scrubbing.

    December 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. name. willard

    Obama was born in keynea and in a muslim
    White house caught in lie about obama past unfornatley the lies obama told about his affordable care act have jaded most amercians to report of new live from white house but the lie is an old one with a kenyan connection
    You have to wonder how he could 3 have missed
    This is dream from my father

    December 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. ParadigmSlayer

    Another day
    and another
    OBAMA LIE
    What else is new?

    December 6, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Mike

    No one trusts Obama anymore. He lied about keeping your old policy, he lied about keeping your doctor and he lied about this. Obama is a true sociopath.

    December 6, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. Michael

    I can't believe a white house or politician would not tell the absolute truth –
    my world is shattered.

    December 6, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. Refuse2giveup

    Hm-m-m, this could give some insight as to how he was admitted to Harvard with a less-than-stellar GPA. International student perhaps? This guy is no brainiac. Further, I can't figure out how he ever became a professor. He's a stammering mess without his Tele-prompter.

    December 6, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Concerned

    oh for God's sake, get over it, why are we dwelling on somthing that does not amount to an hill of beans.

    December 6, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. sdlover

    Does this lie surprise anyone? This administration is nothing but lies and deception. Administration spokespersons don't ask the president himself about personal information they report? They do research to find the answers? Come on! You can't believe a word out of any of their mouths. This bunch is just as bad as the worst of the worst politicians. The only thing that's kept them afloat is their cool persona and the medias love affair with the veneer. I think that's finally wearing thin for anyone with a brain in their head.

    December 6, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. MikeInDM

    Only telling the public what you want them to know is a problem? Was that the same standard when we were looking for WMD's that didn't exist?

    December 6, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. Shawn

    Why would Obama or his staff lie about him meeting his Uncle? Why did they feel the need to cover up meeting a member of his family? It is ridiculous. But now that we know that Obama and his staff lie about even the must mundane issues, it makes it very hard to have any trust in that administration.

    December 6, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. JAC

    CNN should really grammar-check all their stories before posting...

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. J Linden

    Ahh but when obama's term is up then jay "joseph goebbels" carney won't have the white house to hide in. He'll be back on the street where the populace can serve up their just desserts. No mercy for liars and thieves.

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. Name

    How many times have we heard, "we didn't tell the president", "he didn't know", etc, etc. Does his staff make all the calls or what? It sounds like they don't consult him about anything. I don't buy it!!

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. tiz

    another shining example of why I won't believe another word this man says....

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. lawxviii

    One more lie. The liberal media will let this die also, as they have all the rest. And we are surprised when the youth of this nation tell lies to each other and to the adults. The hypocrisy of the left is even more upsetting than the stupidity of the right.

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. Larry

    So the White House is saying Obama didn't know about the widespread media reports saying he had never met the guy....wow.

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Zeke83

    He had an Uncle living in the US illegally, he knew he was here illegally, he shamelessly let his mouthpiece mislead the voting public about his past shared domicile with his illegal relative, he did so without having the decency or backbone to correct the untruth, and did nothing to stop, or even report a crime that he new was actively being committed. He was absolutely complicit to a crime. Yet, somehow, this type of behavior is perfectly acceptable to those who care only about defending their guy in office, and couldn't care less about the damage he does to this country nor the manner in which he consistently employs plausible deniability in the process.

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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