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. DAG

    since when is OUI a traffic violation? The idiocy by the left on this is laughable at best.

    December 6, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Patricia D. Davis

    If we can continue to waste money like this (these stories have to be investigated) when will we ever get out of debt. There is a old saying we need to live by WASTE NOT WANT NOT. Of course Senators and Congressmen don't need to worry about that. They can waste as much as they want it doesn't come out of their pockets.

    December 6, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. J. Sims

    you worry about the government tracking over phone calls, why are you worried about where people sleep?

    December 6, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. cliff

    Who really cares, except for the Tea Party people who will surely have a field day. Lets not forget those weapons of mass destruction that caused thousands of American lives. No war crimes there for sure, ...........

    December 6, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. John

    Par for the course...deny then justify..hey nobody asked me so I did not get a chance to lie.

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

    Oh what a tangled web we weave... when first we practice to deceive.

    December 6, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. drc

    All Hale the King Liar in Chief.

    Hey O, maybe you should write all your lies down and categorize them and put them in a Telepromter format so you can recall things better.

    – Let me guess, his illegal aunt is still living in section-8 housing in Boston and he knows nothing about her either

    This clown-in-chief is more pathetic than the last one and that is/was hard to do. No worries though, his faithful sheep will play the blame game, the race card and never admit Obama is a loser.

    December 6, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. JT

    Normally I'm not a huge fan of the "those who live glass houses shouldn't throw stones" tripe but I'm sick and tired of people calling him a "pathological liar" everytime something changes. FFS, everyone lies at some point or another and if you say you don't... you're lieing.

    December 6, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. cjm71

    So what's new? A political person that lies?! Unfortunately, many of us thought that Obama was different, but we are all to blame too because we will yank our votes for the smallest of indiscretions. A "real" person who does not lie, would be impossible to elect. We all have skeletons in the closet (and I'm not talking about the best of Grateful Dead album), but we expect that our elected officials be perfect, and if they are not, they will NOT be elected. Sorry, but we get what we ask for, which are a bunch of representatives in our government that had to "misrepresent" things to get elected.

    December 6, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Bobka

    I am always amazed at the stories that are released on Friday afternoon

    December 6, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. ublvble

    please leave this president alone, he doesnot even know whether he lived with his uncle, he is bystander to his life itself? is he suffering from any kind of condition of remembrance?

    December 6, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Susan

    What a lie! I remember the press on this subject, and it was given a lot of attention. Of course Obama knew that his staffers were sending out a lie. Obviously, this uncle knows a few things that Obama would rather keep secret.

    December 6, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Neo

    I blame Lee Harvey Oswald:
    Without him Johnson wouldn't have been in a position to decline the nomination and hand the election to tricky Dick.
    If not for Nixon, Ford wouldn't have been Pres. That resulted in Carter being Pres. If Carter hadn't created the "malaise" I doubt we get a B movie actor as Pres and the rise of HW . Without HW and "read my lips" Billy Bob doesn't bop Monica and his VP doesn't lose to Jr (who's daddy got him into college, business school and the gov's and white house). Jr and the GOP were so bad an actually Kenyan citizen would have won that election. So there you go its Nixon's fault

    December 6, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. onelierevealedaweek

    how is it not a big deal? a lie is a lie, an illegal is an illegal. I'm sorry, but plenty of immigrants did their due diligence to stay in this country and become a citizen... a tax paying citizen. he knew his uncle was an illegal immigrant living here for how long? and this is the man that is working on the immigration reform?!

    December 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Steve

    Guilt by Association?? Gee, and his Unc gets 'special treatment' for being 'illegal' – bet the other 'illegals' want special treatment now too!!

    December 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. hoosier

    Seriously? who with that connection would not use it to stay in the country they have lived in for 50 years??? Obama never said he didn't live/know is uncle.. some flunky did... Obama didn't lie. Why don't people stop making up this crap...

    December 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Hoagie58

    To those defending this lie, another in very long line of lies, I ask; If he lied about this, what else has he lied about?

    To Mr. Carney: No mas pantalones.

    December 6, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. watchfuliiiii

    Does it worry anyone that No one cares that half the states in the country are denying healthcare to millions of poor people who need it because they don't like the president. Refusing federal funds. Oh wait this is a bigger issue who did he live with for three weeks again ? His uncle ok. Well that is a big deal. Only 20 something years ago too. How can he be trusted?

    December 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Spuds Mackenzie

    All you people with the fake outrage calling Obama a liar because of this are acting a bit silly.

    Where was the outrage when we found out Bush and Cheney lied about WMDs in Iraq? That war cost us a lot of lives and money. Your probably still not outraged about it.

    December 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Tim

    New Definition of "Whose responsible": "Anyone but President Oboma"
    New Definition of "Who is not responsible": "Only President Obama"
    What a joke this guy and his "followers" are...pathetic

    December 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Peach

    More lies from this President-is anyone surprised? Hands???????

    December 6, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. oldblueeyes

    Reversal? That's just another way to say "I lied". Who are the people that voted for this guy? Are you that blind that you can't see all the lies he spews?

    December 6, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. ccampa

    The stock market was saved, so was the automotive industry, the housing industry. The unemployment rate has fallen and Obamacare is still alive even when the racist republicans have done everything in their power to destroy everything. People learn. It takes time but people do learn. Republicans only care about chaos, about taking everything and make money off the poor's back, by enslaving people. It truly kills them to see a black man in the Whitehouse. I wonder what they will do when it is a woman?
    HILLARY 2016!!!!

    December 6, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. 1uniquemonique

    Who cares??? At least no one died . . . . unlike former President Bush. Bush and those "weapons of mass destruction" lies!!!! About 4,000 people died in Iraq not to mention those who died during the attacks on World Trade Center. He was made aware 9-11 was going to happen and did absolutely nothing!!!!

    December 6, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. sally

    They don't make a machine that measures how little I care about whether Obama stayed three weeks with his uncle years ago. The fact that it is important to his detractors speaks volumes about how petty they can be. Let's talk about lies that really phantom weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for which we have spent trillions. By the way, where was George Bush spending his time when he went awol from the National Guard? Talk about lies!

    December 6, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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