December 5th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
9 years 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. Brad

    I just have one thing to say about this: Grassy Knoll.

    December 6, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Jack Woodburn

    And uh...Uncle Omar has been in this country illegally how long? And the immigration judge just dismissed this factor? No influence from the White House. Right...

    December 6, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. The REAL TRUTH...

    Oh boy.. this latest revelation is really going to those right wing poster-troll-haters all fired up... yawn.

    December 6, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    "You know the best part about get's easier the more you do it. Sometimes I even start to believe my own lies and defend them as truths. The average dumb American can barely distiguish fact from fiction at this point. Really...I'm that good at it!" – Barack Obama

    December 6, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. RoboKnuckle

    Seems to be a lot of people following Hillary's lead from Benghazi, "What does it matter now?" Rather than seeing the lies, they'd rather keep the rose colored glasses on.

    December 6, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. JC

    "the administration denied the President and his Kenyan uncle had ever met. Carney retracted that information Thursday saying that the President himself had never been consulted about their relationship"

    So, Carney just makes it up as he goes along? Sounds about right.

    December 6, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Buckeye Pilot

    Are these Lib's still defending this guy? Wow, This country is so screwed.

    December 6, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. want2believe

    All you people saying he lied yet again, must have the reading comprehension of a rock. It says right in the article he was never personally asked if they had met.

    December 6, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Dumb American

    You mean.... Obama is a liar? SAY IT AINT SO BARRY!

    December 6, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Mognox

    Didn't Al Frankenstein write a book about Lying Liars? I guess it was foreshadowing...

    December 6, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Richard Long

    No integrity.

    December 6, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Bill Davis

    If we say it, it is true, but we find the American Public does not always hear our words the way we say them.

    You can keep your health care, if it survives our regulation. We love to bend the regs and Uncel knows it also...

    December 6, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Rachel

    Why would he lie about this?

    December 6, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. GOPNO

    Get wound up, nutcases. Meanwhile, the economy steadily improves DESPITE the GOP.

    December 6, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. MickeyOregon

    I guess those burning pants just got too hot. I wonder if he will 'fess up about all of his other lies, his whole career of lies?

    December 6, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. Reflection

    This is what happens when the society burns n castrates a person for faults of the people connected to him simply cuz the person in question is in public domain. How did we get to this?? Why or when did our country become so obsessed with judging people based on what their family did or did not?? what should any one expect from the person who gets continuously burned for no other fault than having a family connection. Obviously a denial. Duh...

    December 6, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. underwaterops

    Since it appears that the President gained nothing for concealing having stayed with the uncle, I am not sure why he would have "lied".
    And it appears he did not. But if he did, what precisely is the objection coming from the "Bush lied, and people died, but I don't care about that, it isn't important" crowd?

    December 6, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. glen

    Our very way of life, in fact our very existence, hangs in the balance on this news. I urge every American to reflect on who they have lived with (including slept on their couch) or even used a restroom in the past, because it matters so much in the grand scheme of things.

    December 6, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Mateo

    Folks, I stayed with my half sister once. I haven't been in contact with her for 20 years. I have no idea if she's legal or not. Geez, people. Does this issue put food on your table? If Republicans are so concerned about the relationship, I would be more concerned about the Bush family being business associates with the Osama Bin Laden family. I'm really, out of a country of 300 million plus people and a planet of 8 billion people, they just happened to be acquaintances. I'm just saying...

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. jACOB

    He is a lawyer, he lies very well and tells it to your face so sure it is the truth that we believe this guy. Remember that Bible spirit name, ummmm.. Prince of all lies? This president was trained by him. When he speaks he does not even recognize when he speaks a truth or a lie.

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Solomon Walker

    There are legal consequences for failure to disclose the truth on matters relating to national security defense. When we have a Commander-in-Chief telling white lies so as to benefit from those lies at the detriment of the American people, then it is an impeachable offense.

    This is where a special counsel could assert a propensity by this family to break the law.

    Too many Americans have been profoundly harmed by his lies. I'm tired of it.

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. stepren

    No weapons of mass destruction here...Sorry GOP but no one cares.

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Galactic Matter

    The only people who care about this BS are the ones who are republican sore losers from the 2012 presidential elections. Dig deeper clowns, maybe you'll discover that President Obama actually ate Kenyan food!! GASP!!!!

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. John C

    How's anyone supposed to know when they're telling the truth?

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. mike

    another lie....................yawn. more to come......................

    December 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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