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. A True Conservative

    @Phil – sooner or later you have to admit the truth.....either that or YOU are part of the problem......right now I'm betting on the latter......

    December 6, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Bo Ner

    More useless information for the GOP grinder. Mission Accomplished!

    December 6, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Name: Chinedum

    To live with one for three weeks is not enough time to the person's hiden agenda. Obama wouldn't have know that his uncle was living illegally in the country of USA.

    December 6, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Big Jim

    No One Cares!!

    December 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. NorCalMojo

    If it doesn't matter, why did he lie about it?

    Why sacrifice integrity for such a trivial matter?

    He'd rather climb a tree and lie than tell the truth standing still.

    December 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |

    Politicians lie about what they are doing and why. They all do it. But the POTUS lies about his background. Religion, nationality, blah blah.....all lies.

    December 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    J. Sidney Fox

    I heard a whimsical comment once to the effect: "If his mouth is moving – assume he's lying"


    True for Bush et al......

    December 6, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Kuron

    Regrettably, Obama seems to lie as much as Bush did.

    December 6, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Rosslaw

    We need Darryl to start an investigation that goes on 24/7 while we close the government, bring all air transport to a halt, raise our readiness to Defcon 4 and otherwise cease all worthwhile activities until we find out what "really" happened. Plus it helps right-wingers look like they're doing something without the danger that right-wingers might accidentally accomplish something real.

    December 6, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |

    I cant believe all the libs that dont care at all about the POTUS being a consatant liar. WOW, this country if DOOMED!

    December 6, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. jowl

    Geesh the lies from this guy never stop.. Always trying to get away with something

    December 6, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Silver Lining

    Who cares? I am not an Obama fan but seriously...who cares? Three weeks is a visit, not living with someone. If that's the case, I have lived in far more hotels than I even want to consider. Obama lied – again. At least this lie is not affecting millions of people like his lie on Obamacare. It's time for liberals to stop blaming Bush for everything and it's time for conservatives to move on from this subject.

    December 6, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Chris

    Those defending Obama are missing the point here. It isn't that this is his uncle, or even that he lived with him. The issues, and this should be clear and plain, is that he LIED ABOUT EVEN KNOWING HIM!!!! And let's all agree this was a lie. You cannot at all argue that it was his administration that lied, or was wrong, and that he didn't know about it. That reasoning is just juvenile. I mean, I thought what Clinton did with Monica was disgraceful, but I never thought that deserved punishment...UNTIL CLINTON LIED ABOUT IT ON NATIONAL TV!

    The problem folks, is that if a President is willing to lie about something as trivial as "This guy that is supposedly my uncle, I don't know him." Then it begs the question "What WON'T he lie about?" Or more to the point, one that will lie about something like this assumes he will lie about much bigger things, things that people might actually care about (Bengazi???) That is the true issue. Don't just brush this off, as Thinker did above, as "who cares, he has a lousy uncle..." That is not the problem. The problem is lying about something so trivial. And as an American citizen, I expect better form my President, and you should too.

    December 6, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. John Brown

    So this is what amnesty looks like? And all those in line legally wishing to come here or stay here?

    December 6, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. srcactus

    Lets start a lottery! Lie of the week properly forecast a week in advance wins!!!

    December 6, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. misterflibble1

    Did anyone commenting ACTUALLY read the story? He stayed at his uncle who lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Who Cares?!?! hahaha Exactly how is he a liar by staying with an uncle who lived in the US and then helped him get out of a traffic ticket. I've never seen more of a non issue that everyone was in a hissy fit about. It's funny actually.

    December 6, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. jsmoulder

    I guess Obama did not see it in the news that he did not know his uncle, if he had he would have corrected it. LOL

    December 6, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. penel9

    I've tried to give Pres. Obama the benefit of doubt by the common standard of decency (we still have that). He's been given the greatest honor to be taken on by any man at any given time but in my mind but has failed miserably.

    December 6, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. jim

    It's not that he lived with his uncle or not–it's the casual lying that bothers me. Why does the White House lie? Because they think they can get away with it, that's all.

    December 6, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Nate

    They got scared someone had new information and proof so they came out with the truth. I imagine they did not want the press looking into the Uncle's past back during the election because he was here illegally. How on Earth would you answer a question like that and release a statement without speaking to the President? What an absolute lie. How anyone trusts anything this President says is beyond me.

    December 6, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Who cares is right., Obama probably didn't know his Uncles given name when asked just like many others.

    December 6, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. pb

    Someone should look at his application to sit for the bar. Typically you need to account for all of your addresses, no matter how long you stayed there. Wonder if he was truthful there?

    December 6, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Obama ism

    I am sure it was just an oversight. Just like "you can keep your plan and your Dr". It's not Obama's fault. It is Bush who did it. Lol

    December 6, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. mcwreiole

    What the heck does the Kennedys keepng in touch have to do with Obama living with his ILLEGAL alien uncle? That is one of the silliest statements I've heard yet.

    December 6, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I don't know why anyone should expect honesty anymore about ANYTHING if this is what we CONTINUALLY learn from President Barack Hussien Obama. The "truth" isn't good enough so make things up and get offended when questioned. That's what we are being TAUGHT in this "teachable moment."

    December 6, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69