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. stars

    Watch the wwnj go nuts because he didnt tell us he stayed with his uncle for a few weeks these ppl has lost theirs freakin mind.

    December 5, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  2. tom l

    "So what?
    A young black man looking to meet someone in is family that looked like him and could tell him more about his father."

    I couldn't agree with you more. So what? Irrelevant. But what on earth does the color of his skin have to do with this?

    December 5, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. James

    Interestingly, the last time President Obama spoke with his uncle, and in fact when he lived with him, his uncle was here illegally. Now, maybe he did not know that (probably not the sort of thing that comes up in general polite conversation with a relation you hardly know, so it is possible and maybe even probable that Obama just did not know... Still... Why not ask President Obama THAT question, instead of did he ever meet him?

    December 5, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  4. Steve

    It's only a lie if you find out about it.

    December 5, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  5. KL

    Another day, another lie.

    December 5, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  6. Just

    He lied again? The O' s lips moving now signal another lie.

    December 5, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. Michael

    What the hell is it with this guy. His life is like CIA classified information. I like him and I hope he gets his act together but I am feeling very uneasy about his past.

    December 5, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  8. mrkhrrs

    Why would you even lie about this. Like anyone would care that he lived with his uncle. This president has 0 credibility.

    December 5, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  9. mrkhrrs

    The issue here isn't that he lived with his uncle. The issue here is that he lied about it. Why would you even lie about something like that? Like anybody would care that he lived with his uncle. This president has 0 credibility.

    December 5, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  10. Ima liar

    Well got caught in another. Wonder why Americans are falling behind ? Something reeks in DC. Sad

    December 5, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  11. BTLProd

    So he knew his Uncle was in the Country, ILLEGALLY. No wonder he wants to get amnesty for illegals so badly.

    December 5, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  12. realmike

    So another lie then. Awesome.

    December 5, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  13. Marc

    Oh man. Pants on fire...AGAIN? "Well, I lied, but I didn't really lie, but I lied."

    And we elected this compulsive liar? He's actually surpassing Nixon.

    December 5, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  14. HenryMiller

    Yet another lie, yet another cover-up.

    December 5, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  15. davecu

    With Barry's aversion to the truth, I can't help but question what other lies has he made to the country!
    From 'live birth' in Hawaii all the way up to 'if you like your doctor' could conceivably be questioned as well.

    "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to device." - This commonly quoted line from Walter Scott was published in 1808 in the poem Marmion.

    December 6, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. ACSJ

    This administration lies when it does not help them. And of course, the uncle got to stay. Pres Obama has truly ruined the democratic party

    December 6, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  17. watching_rome_burn

    Nobody cares ... and it doesn't even matter if they got the story straight this time ... so many lies about things we do care about why would anybody pay attention to this?

    December 6, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  18. Getoverit

    But he said he never met him. Oh, another lie. Oh well....

    December 6, 2013 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  19. CryBabies

    Keep justifying it with excuses Obama supporters. It goes to being upfront and honest, regardless of WHAT the issue is.

    December 6, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  20. Truth Hurts

    Another lie from the great liar.....
    Obama lived for weeks with his illegal immigrant uncle, and people wonder why nobody believes him about his past when stuff like this comes out (his Grandma saying he was born in Kenya, living abroad while growing up, going to a Muslim school, sealing his college transcripts because allegedly it says on an aid form that's he's a foreign student – I.E. not a U.S. Citizen, etc). And now he's running this country into the dirt.

    December 6, 2013 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  21. Darrell

    Another lie? If you were not asked about the issue before and did not provide an answer to a question you were not asked, is not a lie. If you have evidence that shows that he was indeed asked and he answered the question in 2011, please provide it so the rest of the world can see...otherwise, a non-story that only excites the people who already hate him.

    December 6, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  22. jack maggi

    We'll never know Obama's true family story.

    December 6, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  23. Ken Whittenburg

    We should all know by now – if it walks like a liar, talks like a liar and looks like a liar it's probably a liar. I don't understand how anyone can continue to defend this man. And please stop playing the race card to justify his lies.

    December 6, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Just another big lie from a fraud seems like everytime his lips move he lies this clown is the worst president EVER

    December 6, 2013 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  25. jerome

    "Onyango Okech Obama, President Obama's uncle, granted permission Tuesday by a federal immigration judge to stay in the United States, where he has lived illegally for the past five decades."

    Where he has lived illegally for the past five decades!

    December 6, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
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