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. karl from az

    Is there anything he doesn't lie about? Nah, forget it, a rhetorical question!

    December 6, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Maggie

    What a stupid lie to tell. You have to know something like that will surface and make you look stupid or worse. I'm an Obama supporter, but this still makes me embarrassed for him.

    December 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Balanced99

    How anyone can still approve of our president is beyond me. I wouldn't care if the president was my father, sibling or child, if they acted as a pathological liar – they would still have my love, but would absolutely lose my approval and support for their job.

    It's constantly lie until you get caught – then blame someone else.

    December 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. anthony

    so this is the smoking gun right? Republicans should go all in on this and run on it in 2016.

    December 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. ilovewhiners

    Three weeks. That's how long Obama 'lived' with his half-uncle. Big deal. Who cares?

    December 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. castaway

    You see, when you start telling lies you then tend to forget what you lied about, so then you have to tell more lies to cover the forgotten lies. It's complicated when you're a liar.

    December 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Agurusguru

    Slowly but surely the truth of all of Obama's lies will come out. Be prepared for a shock!

    December 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Frank

    The liar in Chief. Bush was bad but this guy when his lips move don't beleive it.

    December 6, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. skdowd

    Queue the spews from Fox News...

    December 6, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Paul

    Headline should read, "President Lies Again!". You gotta love the liberal media though; their love affair with Obama knows no bounds. Calling it a "Reversal" on top of their scrambling to polish up the lies associated with ACA is great entertainment!

    December 6, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. George

    Obama never met his uncle who has been in this country for 50 years....right. Jeremiah Wright was not Obama's religious mentor "Not God bless America, God D__ America.....right. "If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan....period.......right. We will bring the murders of the 4 brave Americans murdered in Benghazi to justice......right. My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. Memorandum from Obama. Some people drink a couple Martinis and are labeled drunks. How many lies does a person and in Obama's case, his party have to tell before they are rightfully labeled LIARS. Nancy Pelosi, "We'll we're just going to have to pass Obamacare to find out what's in the bill....right. Harry Reid exempts his staff from Obamacare even though he voted for,it and pushed it through the senate illegally utilizing the reconciliation process even though more than 60% of the public was opposed to the law, but that's OK, look how Obamacare is helping the people.....right. Time to wise up America

    December 6, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Doug

    It must suck for Obama to keep getting caught up in all his lies.

    December 6, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Name

    did anyone else see this is a huge conflict of interest? the president lies about his relationship with his illegal uncle, but again its his staff's fault for not asking him... sure.... and he's the president trying to establish and push through immigration reform... great....

    December 6, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Drew

    Obama should be ashamed of himself. What a liar he has turned out to be. This man had a chance to make a difference and "Change" but instead he turned out to be a big fat liar and typical politician.

    December 6, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. TastyBeverage

    3 week! REALLY!!!! since when is 3 weeks considered living with someone. Come on stop with all this kind of crap that means not one damn thing when it comes to the big picture. I have meet countless people in my life time and I'm sure the President has meet 1000x's more then I and I have stayed with friends and family for more then 3 weeks and NEVER considered it to be living there. I have relatives that I meet once or twice 30+ years ago and I didn't remember them until my sister told me some details about the meeting to jog my memory. So no I don't see it as a lie or a omit ion it is one of 1000's of things that happen during the course of life. SMH"

    December 6, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. Tom

    Wow, and we wonder why nobody trust politicians! How refreshing would it be to have politicians represent us who we could trust? I don't care what party, just looking for honest, trustworthy people to represent us!

    December 6, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. sagewy

    Our country is in serious trouble; we cannot trust our government to tell the truth. We must bring back honesty and integrity to restore our nation.

    December 6, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Dan

    so he lied? no surprise ... I see his minions are on here defending him

    December 6, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. onelierevealedaweek

    did anyone else see this is a huge conflict of interest? the president lies about his relationship with his illegal uncle, but again its his staff's fault for not asking him... sure.... and he's the president trying to establish and push through immigration reform... great....

    December 6, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Brian

    Impeach, impeach, impeach...

    December 6, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Need another zip file for lies. The 12 pack they bought is all used up.

    December 6, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. quidestveritas

    it's really perplexing to see that Obama's supporters focus on the "who cares where he lived" rather than the obvious untruth put forth by the administration that he had never met this guy. are his supporters incapable of separating the two or do they simply not care about what is an increasing appearance that this administration is generally untruthful? and yes, we know that bush and other presidents lied about all kinds of stuff. I just can't get my mind around the "who cares if he lies" mentality.

    December 6, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Steve

    If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
    – Notebook, 1894
    Mark Twain

    December 6, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. PoliticiansRCrooks

    Please this president LIED about something??? Say it isn't so? I think if you add LIES versus Honest Answers you can blame the honest answers on teleprompter editing errors.

    December 6, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. blakenaustin

    A compulsive liar. You can not believe a single word that comes out of this man's mouth. He will say anything to further whatever his objective is. Absolutely no personal integrity.

    December 6, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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