December 5th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
10 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. Tell it like it is

    Ha ha ha, I love to read stories like this, so I can tell all the sheeple that voted for him not once, but twice that you have been duped, bamboozled, had the wool pulled over your eyes. Next time you might want to do your own research instead of listening to the bs rhetoric before you go to the voting polls. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Bet you bought into that Obamacare didn't you? Bet you believed all that "Yes we can" crap. Now it's time to reap what you have sown. Did you really believe that a community organizer would be able to fill the shoes of the President of the United States? You've been served!!

    December 6, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. JV63

    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.

    Illegally? No harm done, he's the President's Uncle. lol

    December 6, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  3. Leets62

    OMG!!! Obama told a lie????!!!!!! This is just preposterous!!!!!

    December 6, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. sue

    you can't believe a single word out his mouth, nothing but lies!

    December 6, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. RomneyWho

    Hey Mr. President, you step on a crack, I didn't see it . . . YOU LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

    December 6, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. obummer

    just because someone else has lied it doesn't making lying ok. because a previous president has lied it doesn't make it ok for this president to lie. AND are you kidding me liberals? youre getting mad at republicans getting mad at obama for lying? you guys roast bush any chance you did get and do get. ive never seen a president get attacked the way you guys do bush. the fact youre getting upset just makes you sound like little babies. hypocrites. seriously. youre laughable

    December 6, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Drummer

    You can keep the medical insurance you have, oops did I say that? I never met with my uncle from Kenya oops I DID IT AGAIN!! man I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

    December 6, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. ObjectiveGuy

    Seems that the only time the truth comes out of the Obama administration is when they get caught in a lie. Makes you wonder how many other lies have not been uncovered.

    December 6, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. JV63

    He didn't know about this? Does he even know he's President?

    December 6, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. alf564

    Ha ha ha ha ha I don't think he would have done well at the Nazi trials in Nurnberg (sp) Some people just CANNOT tell the truth no matter what .... that would be the President of the USA

    December 6, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. Sane Person

    How can he go from "We've never met" to "Oh, yea, I lived with him" ...

    December 6, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. sickofitall

    what??? a lie? from the boy wonder himself? say it isn't so....so how many does this make – I sort of lost track at 582 lies and acts of deceit – 583??

    December 6, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. GubnitSPY

    Hey "True Conservative", it happens, but you'd have to be in a position of power to know how often it does, get over your self... I bet you think the president of the united states knows how much money is your piggy bank and you'd be WRONG.

    December 6, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Bob Dobalina

    Every decent reporter from now on should give the same follow up to all of Obama's answers/statements:

    "Are you sure about that Mr. President?"

    December 6, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. Rochy

    and i lived with my parents until i was 24..... WHO CARES !!???!?!?!

    December 6, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  16. Standard Issue

    (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.

    Obama knew full well that his uncle was in this country illegally, so he tried to conceal the fact that he lived with him at one time. After being elected, it came to light that he had a relative living in this country illegally. To distance himself from that relative he had his administration state "there is no record of that." Indeed there wasn't any record publicly available because he had his college records sealed. There lies the crust of the matter, no record of it. No matter how the left tries to slice and dice it, he didn't have the cojones to "man up" and admit to the fact, he chose to

    December 6, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. The Real Truth

    Wake up people! The Anti-Christ is here.

    December 6, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. alf564

    Yo demo something.... its time for them to LEAVE and take nancy and harry with you...what POOR excuse for human beings they are...and you

    December 6, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. Mark Yelka

    My aunt Dorothy would say that people who are trying to tie guilt to the President are using the Guilty of Having Relatives strategy.

    December 6, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Jason

    Did anyone speak to him about taking his family, including the mother-in-law, on a trip to south africa.?? At the taxpayers expense?

    December 6, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. j0eschm0e

    Once again Obama LIED and will probably get away with it. p.o.s.

    December 6, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Terry

    is this really an issue? so he stayed with his uncle, how is that a problem?

    December 6, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. Miguel

    How the heck does Obama's aunt AND uncle both live here illegally with her on public assistance him in jail? How do they stay her without being deported? Who paid for their dang $3k airline ticket?

    The Obama family is turning a drag on the country, starting with Obama who is turning out to be exactly like Clinton when it comes to the truth.

    December 6, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. Mark Yelka

    Obama is at fault for having relatives.

    December 6, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. MikeyD

    Why is this news? how many kids have left home to attend College in another State and temporarily stay with some relative or family friend, who they hardly know or have never met, until they found suitable housing? anything these right wingers can find to nail our BLACK president to a cross, they will search a hay stack to find.....SO STUPID!!

    December 6, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
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