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. Jerry Rivera

    Bush Sr- "Read my lips...."
    Clinton- "I did not inhale..."
    Bush Jr- "Sadam Hussein is hidding..."
    Obama- "you can keep...."

    December 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. joe

    sorry but white men could not stand a black man as their leader...simple as that...he is your president and your leader like or not....sorry but needed to say this .....

    December 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Namjim

    this administration is a joke n if hillary becomes president after him I'm moving to canada

    December 6, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Really?

    Its ok for Obama to lie because it for the greater good (ie get elected, or pass Obamacare). At least that is what some CNN reporter/commentator (LZ) said. So there u have it folks. So what if millions were hurt and we were duped. It is a democrat therefore OK. Seriously people, Either the media knew about this in 2007when Obama was campaigning and swept it under the rug, OR the media never care to investigate Obama for fear of what they may find. Case in pt. GWB got in trouble as a young adult. That was front page news everywhere, No stone was unturned when the media vetted GWB. But Obama does cocaine as a yourng adult, lies about never meeting his uncle when he lived with him and the slience is deafening.

    December 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. Bort

    I love how this will enrage people who have nothing better to do than obsess about it.

    December 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. coolvfx

    yeah...and Bush was a coke head and his wife ran over and killed someone.....

    You trolls love throwing stones

    December 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. El Lobo

    Oh my he stayed with his uncle for a few day and this is somehow important. I stayed with my Grandma once for a summer before I joined the Navy. Does that mean I did something wrong. So what. I would like to now where bushie jr was when he was really supposed to be on duty during his air national guard days.

    December 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Charles

    Can someone tells me reason why you can't live with an illegal family if you are a U.S citizen ? But the good book says blood is thicker than water. But now is an offense to have a struggling family in United State, a land of freedom, a unick country among the rest of the world, God's own country where united withstand, a country where you can struggle and become somebody in life,A country where you can be proud of yourself and live an exemplary life, leader of all nation on heart. Wow I am stunned

    December 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. David

    This is news? WGAS...

    December 6, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. nodat1

    the lies just keep on coming, I at one time was a supporter of the president Obama, you know a change.... but the current president is no different then the rest of the elected leaders that stayed at the White house rent free he just seem to have more sheeple who are overlooking the lies

    what next, The WH clarifying the presidents actual birth place

    I guess the real change was that a non US citizen was elected president of the United States maybe he will get another Nobel prize for that accomplishment

    December 6, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. nodat1

    the lies just keep on coming, I at one time was a supporter of the president Obama, you know a change.... but the current president is no different then the rest of the elected leaders that stayed at the White house rent free he just seem to have more people with blinder on who are overlooking the lies

    what next, The WH clarifying the presidents actual birth place

    I guess the real change was that a non US citizen was elected president of the United States maybe he will get another Nobel prize for that accomplishment

    December 6, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. GGM

    This is not about meeting his Uncle, or Living with his Kenyan born uncle.... it is about lying. And are you going to tell me his "people" consulted a book, instead of asking Obama himself about this? He LIED...

    December 6, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. valkyrie

    And what's the significance of this? WGAS. Moving on...

    December 6, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Mike mazz

    What is the conspiracy here again? What is the rt wing theory here...that it was his Kenyan uncle? LOL I hung out for a week when I was 15 with my Greek Uncle when he was in Florida. I have seen him once since then. I mean what does the rt think the big conspiracy was in "the lie"? LOL

    Is it because the rt wants to keep on making believe Obama is really Kenyan? Im just trying to understand.

    I remember once my mom in front of my wife was talking about a cousin I had that I had o recollection of..she was like he stayed with us when you were 18 for 2 days when Uncle Jim got married. I had no memory of that at all.

    December 6, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Michael

    kind of crying over spilled milk. he is our president so get over yourself. its pathetic you still grasp at anything to try and prove your warped view of obama

    December 6, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Fair is fair

    The birthers will be proved right !

    December 6, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Guest

    The lies just keep coming. You name it, Obama will lie about it.

    December 6, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. DWR

    How do you know when this White House is not telling the truth?

    Their lips move

    December 6, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Zane

    The funny part is the more Obama lies the more I'm beginning to believe the birthers might be on to something.

    December 6, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. quidestveritas

    was the president aware of the announcement made by his people in 2011? if he was, why didn't he demand that the record be corrected at that time? and if he wasn't aware of the announcement in 2011, why wasn't he aware of it?

    December 6, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Mike Jara

    More lies from Obama. He needs to leave office and put a President in office. He is going to turn the United States of America into Detroit.

    December 6, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. MakesYouThink

    Another Lie, Another Day, so now we have 2 Kenyan's that should not be in America

    December 6, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Angelo Cabral

    Although this is merely gossip, I support the notion of exposing Obama lies. This country has had enough of it!

    December 6, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. MoreGuns

    This proves he should be impeached. Anyone who lives with their uncle is plain, old fashioned, rabid vermin.

    December 6, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Mty3kGT

    So one illegal immigrant chilling with another????

    December 6, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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