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. George

    ""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." .. Okay, but if the president saw false information being propagated by his own staff, he should have clarified.

    December 6, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. BigMike3951

    Wait.... that would mean somebody in the administration LIED. How is that possible? There go a couple more approval rating points.

    December 6, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Name

    So many lies.

    December 6, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Jane Grey

    Oh, big deal. Who cares????

    December 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    TRUST "ME"
    "I" am NOT a liar

    "I" will have THE MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION in american history !!!
    You betcha... As soon as "I" have NO other way out.

    REMEMBER
    The Lib / Progressive / Democrat / NIRVANA – UTOPIA end
    justifies ANY and ALL means.

    "I" have evolved.
    "I" am SMARTER than God Himself

    TRUST"ME"
    "I" am NOT a liar

    December 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. ajk68

    I'm tired of people near Obama throwing themselves under the bus for him. Nobody asked him, yeah, right!

    Why should we care? Well, it states a lot on his view on illegal immigration. In the executive branch, you are supposed to uphold the laws, not close your eyes.

    December 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. WhatAShame

    Here we go Monica Lewinsky all over again. GOP stick to politics and not going after the other guy for any thing you can find. Just make this country better.

    I ask everyone of you. If you had an Uncle who was living in this country illegally would you turn him in to be deported?

    Can not believe the GOP has stooped this low.

    December 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Get A Life

    WHY IS THIS A NEWS STORY?!?!!? Who freakin' cares? This is such a non-issue. And who are all of these losers who keep talking about Obama lying again? Remember George W.? His lies started a war. A WAR! What brand of crack are you all smoking?

    December 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. dajowi

    This president can do no wrong. His supporters will defend him no matter what. According to his defenders anyone opposing him is a racist.

    December 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Johnny Triumph

    So the bunglers working for Obama messed it up, but the President never corrected things when he learned about them. What a joke. And he had to lie about it since the Uncle was here illegally. Obama has just shown us it's ok to lie and to not profess truth in order to get your way. What a shame this is the example our kids have to grow up with.

    December 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Rob

    And this story deserves headlines...why??? I should not be suprised – it's CNN.

    December 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. The Truth Hurts

    Funny – Obama never met with Sebelius, but he lived with his uncle and nobody thought to ask him? What's one more lie on top of the hundreds of other whoppers that have been told since 2008?

    December 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Jim

    For those of you that are defending Obama or saying this doesn't matter, it certainly does matter. It shows character. He is an elected official and the public needs to decide if it is important. People need to take responsibility for their actions. But B.O. passes the buck every time. He never knew, he was never told, etc. The American public however is being totally disrespected by the president. He has been caught in so many lies at this point it is impossible to know when he is actually being truthful about anything.

    December 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. mshabazz09

    Who cares? You can call him a liar all you want, but the fact is, he's the president. No one cares that he lived with his uncle 20 years ago. Be careful folks jealousy makes for bad people.

    December 6, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Clarence Alexander

    "The White House was asked about their relationship in 2011 at which time the administration denied the President and Onyango Okech Obama had ever met. Carney retracted that information Thursday saying that the President himself had never been consulted about their relationship."
    Completely unbelievable. Why would they answer falsely in 2011 unless trying to distance Obama from the "illegal" status of his uncle. And "they fell out of contact" seems to be one way of saying Obama wants nothing to do with his illegal relative after becoming president. I can see why "the administration" would just answer with a lie - their boss sets the bar.

    December 6, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Jerry

    Can this man (Mr. Obama) ever stop being a serial/scoundrel of a liar?! Just asking!!! How shameful...

    Stay tuned, more lies coming in droves...

    "Team Obama Takes "Affordable" Out of Latest Obamacare publicity/lies. I told you so!!!

    December 6, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. CL

    that's nice, now on to something that's actually newsworthy...

    December 6, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Stefan

    Who cares? We all know that if he was honest about living with a Kenyan uncle who was in this country illegally the right would flip out and question whether or not he was part of some sort of Jihadist sleeper cell.. It doesn't matter what he did when he was 28 years old. Let's get back to governing...

    December 6, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. Booseyboo

    "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.

    Boo!!! That is a load of caca. Who in their right mind would make such a statement without actually asking if it were true. I know we have a short memory but apparently our politicians think we are stupid as well.

    December 6, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Kafumba Bility

    Let him rest in peace and solve the current debt crisis of the US. That's his uncle and that is that!

    December 6, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Out of Touch

    When the uncle's issue of drunk driving and illegal status was exposed, why is it millions of Americans would have seen it in the news, but our President doesn't?

    December 6, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Ignorant bliss

    I don't think it matters that he stayed with his illegal immigrant uncle decades ago.

    It does matter that the knee jerk reaction on the part of his staff is to lie.

    I mean, we know that "the president was not informed"

    December 6, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Steve

    It has nothing to do with race. He has put himself in the position of question on everything.
    The President is raised to the highest level where trust is a must! Obama, Clinton, Nixon, etc. Low life's!
    Shame on all of them that have let down this country.
    There is a difference between good decisions and bad, as long as intensions were sincere – Carter, Reagan, etc. Good Men!

    December 6, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Name

    This administration is one big lie.

    December 6, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. MS

    "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,"

    Courteously,

    Yeah, right. In guess he "learned about it on the news with everyone else." just as with the IRS affair, the Obamacare fiasco, and pretty much everything else for which he wants to blame someone else.

    That's the thing about progressivism, the politicians take credit when things go well, even if they had nothing to do with it and blame everyone else if there is failure, even if they were responsible.

    December 6, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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