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. concernedcitizen1

    Obama is a pathological liar. He is by far one of the worst politicians and most damaging in the country's history.

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. 0bozotor

    Obama has told so many lies they're now categorized.

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Kevin Lowe

    What does this have to do with jobs? Or any of the other challenges our nation faces?

    December 6, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. Teddy Cruz Jr.

    The Huffington Post has more integrity than this sorry group.

    December 6, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Michael B

    Wish people would have voted for Romney

    December 6, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. Fruitpie

    Some of you need a hobby.

    December 6, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Francisco Decastro

    Thank God I got this piece of information. Now I can finally breath. I was having a hard time going on with my life for the past years because I wanted to know if Obama had met his uncle. It seems he did. Thank God, Cambridge is a nice place. I can finally live in peace.

    December 6, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. Tom Trittipo

    I am a lair. Everything I say is a lie. Am I telling the truth? Well one could say we have another point of untruth.

    December 6, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. tiggity

    Of course he doesn't remember...he was too busy smoking crack cocaine

    December 6, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Mark

    POTUS is a pathological liar deep in denial. I've personally lost faith in him and the entire administration. It's time for him to admit ALL his lies and resign.

    December 6, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Andy

    I don't care one way or another but this guys seems to get caught lying once a month.

    December 6, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. jo2

    Who cares? Anything to try and discredit the president. So what if he stayed briefly with an uncle in Kenya.

    December 6, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Doc

    There should NEVER be a headline link that starts out, "W.H. Reversal". I don't care what side of the aisle you're on, and I don't care who you support, I expect that kind of a question to ALWAYS be answered truthfully by the White House. If its something that would jeopardize national security, that's another matter. But to not play straight up on something like this just raises a whole lot of questions. What other lies have been told? It's not acceptable from our current administration, and it would not be acceptable from a Republican administration.

    December 6, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Mark

    Yes, I think we can all agree that Obama is a real live Manchurian candidate, raised, brainwashed and hypnotized by radicals with ill intent toward our country. This has all been effectively covered up by the liberal media, who are in cahoots with the sabateurs. Excuse me while I watch the latest "Preppers" reality TV episode.

    December 6, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  15. bilbfit

    You fools elected a freaking Kenyan? Incredible!!

    December 6, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Denise

    A relative's dwi??.......heck Darth Vader Cheney had 4 dui's while getting his seven deferments in an earlier day.....Perhaps he should have done a better job of parenting instead of out partying....Maybe his daughter wouldn't have turned gay....

    December 6, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. MattyC1210

    Most transparent administration ever right here guys... Making up blatant lies to cover up an issue that most people couldn't give two %$%s about.

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. US_DOJ_Gov

    White House now shows their gross incompetence. No one thought to ask the President.... regarding the President?

    What other subject matter are they stating, but not asking the President?

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Cricket111

    He lies when the truth would serve him better. While I realize that this type of lying isn't cause for impeachment, he does have enough of other things to do so. Write your representatives!
    He's talking; he's lying.

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. hadeze

    if i stay with my uncle for 3 wks ... and do not remember. then, either I have limited brain function or purposely deny this fact. in addition to all the other things Obama (a) can't remember (b) was not told ... this does not surprise one. it is equally sad that the administration is part of the continual adjustment of his recollections.

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. Denise

    How many dui's did Bush and Cheney have combined? I'm sure Cheney was drunk when he shot his best friend in the face...

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. quidestveritas

    maybe Obama didn't know he lived with him. maybe Obama didn't know he was himself at the time maybe the uncle didn't tell Obama he was his uncle. maybe the uncle wore a disguise. maybe Obama was too stoned the entire time to remember. maybe the administration was just lying because they didn't want to admit that the president lived with an illegal immigrant.

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. StuckWithHim

    I think it is called "plausible deniability." Washington DC is full of people that are experts in that practice.

    December 6, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. dike

    Who cares... I am sure the mad dogs are there again yelling and screaming I told you so.. and go after his birth certificate again or even say he is a Mulim... This is just fodder for the mad dogs...

    December 6, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Denise

    And most tea party folks live in the basement of their parents.....

    December 6, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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