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. Kristoph

    Credibility. The most open and transparent administration in history (sic) willfully stated to the effect the president had NOT ever met his uncle. Only now that his uncle spills the beans in open court under oath does the administration see fit to "clarify" the record. Credibility.

    December 6, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. 52pan

    So what? Who cares? If the president is worried about the fact that his credibility is only OK with people who have sand in their ears, then he really is out of touch. Wait until he's out of office and can't protect his cronies anymore. Then the whole bunch of them will wind up in court.
    That is the problem with lies. They keep building and building up until they have a life of their own. And the fact that the libs are going to have to resort to extreme means to keep themselves in office. That's the only way they'll get away with their crimes.

    December 6, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. opinion8it

    I wasn't aware of any laws stating that you cannot live with your uncle for 3 weeks.

    December 6, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. MickeyOregon

    He just lies and lies and lies and lies and the press still loves him no matter how much he limits them, stifles them, threatens them.

    December 6, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. Tevii

    The only concern about this is the constant lies, makes one reconsider the whole fiasco about his own citizenship.

    December 6, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Question Authority

    Say, isn't this the same Barack Obama who said that he's met the guys at the NSA and they're all professionals, and so you can trust him when he says that those guys would NEVER abuse their NSA spying powers?

    December 6, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. joeazona

    Does this mean they are finally going to talk about his birth certificate and college transcripts and what is really on them?

    December 6, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. Franklin

    So Obie lived with his "breaking the law" uncle while going to Harvard "Law" School...nice...haha. Laws are just suggestions for liberals anyway.

    December 6, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. a poet

    Frankly, everybody lies, even every single president we've had since Truman. Lies on't bother me but our raceist congress does. I wouldn't give what respect I have for our president to any one of them. Period!!

    December 6, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. edmundburkeson

    Transparency extraordinaire! Ever get the feeling we're not dealing with a real person but a machine?

    December 6, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. Debbie Harris

    Wonder if he knows where Obama was born?

    December 6, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  12. Howard

    It's really about the arrogance of this guy in the White House, he figures the liberal media will give him a pass on the facts, and he is correct. To all you folks who say this is not a big deal, it actually is a big deal, and its a reflection of Obama's character and ethics. He has repeatedly lied to push his agenda forward and will continue to do so. I was no fan of Bush but Obama makes me long for another conservative at the helm.

    December 6, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  13. Steven C

    Just the latest example where Obama has been caught in a lie ...

    December 6, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    He is not responsible. I wish you racist Obama haters would give it a rest. Democrats will retake the house and hold the senate in 2014. Then we can get something accomplished in D.C.

    December 6, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  15. drew

    What the Obama Appologists seem to miss is that the WH said "He never met the man". That's a lie. It doesn't matter if he lived with him or not– they said he never met the man.

    December 6, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. srcactus

    The excuses are just magnificent!. A liar not held accountable by similarly dishonest or at the very least disingenuous creeps deserve each other.

    December 6, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. Ted

    Soon we will find out that Obama got his first education from a second-rate community college in CA with less than impressive grades.

    December 6, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. brenda Varanasi

    How come his illegal relatives get to stay in the US and my husband had to leave the country and then wait 5 years or so and then come back in to be legal? I am not the president, but I am an American, like him, and he shouldn't get special consideration for his family when I didn't.

    December 6, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  19. Huh?

    It's doesn't matter he lived with is uncle, it matters he lied. This is not the first time he lied. He is the president and should be above reproach. Third world here we come.

    December 6, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. testimate

    Doesn't much of any thing positive, about the leader of the free world, when he turns his back, and has no regards for his own family. And we believe he is going to care about, what's best for us, the American people?

    December 6, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  21. dejavu65

    Who cares.....I lived with my Aunt while in grad school...the GOP searching for stupid stuff like this is why they will never win a Presidential election anytime soon...keep digging that deep grave DOP!!!....dumb old people!

    December 6, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. jenn,philadelphia

    I don't care if he lived with him or never met him. The bigger issue is why are we rewarding someone who broke the law for 50 years! with citizenship?

    December 6, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. Jeremy

    Someone tell me where the lie is..... I have read this time and time again... The president has never said anything about NOT staying with a foreign uncle. Just because he doesn't mention it, it makes it a lie? Too sad.

    December 6, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Luke,AZ

    Republicans have absolutely nothing to offer in keeping America on the right track. President Obama is one of the greatest presidents we have had and Republicans obstruct and distract everything our President tries to do. I can't wait till 2014 gets here.

    December 6, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. Stephen J. Beard

    Just more lies from the Liar in Chief. When is enough, enough?

    December 6, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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