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. Bark envious mungo

    This. President. Is. A. Joke. (An unfunny joke that robs 99% of America)

    December 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Bob Galloway

    It seems that the wonderful orator Barack Hussein Obama and his staff are plagued with his evil twin Lying Barry.
    This evil twin lied during the televised campaign that "THE ORATOR" had not gone to Venezuela, Iran and other socialist countries after the inauguration. He lied about Obamacare. He lied about having met his illegal uncle.
    Barry, you need to expose this evil twin and clear your path to greatness.

    December 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Brainy Smurf

    If you like your Uncle... you can keep him... here in the US illegally... for decades!

    I'm not even an (R) and I find you D's defending this as non-issue. How is the the R's fault now? Wait, it must be Bush's fault! If he lied, it's a friggin lie. He could come in and shoot your entire family and you'd still follow him blindly. Makes me sick.

    December 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. lilyq

    You can't believe a word any of them say.

    December 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Denise

    You have to feel for these morons.....waking up every morning for the next couple of years and seeing the first black president on tv......

    December 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. michael cassity

    Barry is a nightmare. Do you want a Progressive Country? Where tha Govt. runs everything you do??

    December 6, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. golfjabroni

    At least they could be better liers. They read his book and didn't find evidence that he lived with his uncle? That is bad.

    December 6, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Gingerpeach

    So the bigger news is.........Uncle has been "granted permission" to remain in the the United States. Do you think he would have been "granted Permission" if he didn't know or wasn't a relative of the President?

    December 6, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Susan

    Pants on fire!

    December 6, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. Bill Doe

    Tons of great jobs out there being snapped up! Wow! Are you serious? Job numbers are BS. Account for those taking P/T, F/T with low pay and the people who fall "out" of the workforce (quit working and suck the gov teet) and the unemployment is well above 10%.

    December 6, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Denise

    The ACA covers mental health visits dittoheads. Get help for the voices in your head.....

    December 6, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. shopmonkeypoo

    Some of the comments on this thread calling the president a liar is proof that most ultra right crazies cannot read and do not try to read entire articles. Good lord you guys.. it doesn't get any clearer! WHERE in this article does it say the president did LIED? Reading comprehension anyone?

    December 6, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. David

    Nobody spoke to the President. That's been obvious for 5+ years.

    December 6, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. nice to know

    I thought Obama liked older white men, not older black men?

    December 6, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Joe

    It would not have been a big deal if the President did not during the election go out and have his cronies lie for him so it would not be an issue. People called bush a liar for using intelligence that turned out to be wrong. This President lies every time he opens his mouth or has his administration talk for him!

    December 6, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. NancyBee

    The lies just keep piling up.

    December 6, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. dplandry

    Yes another of his may lies! This man is a pathological liar and some of you were actually tricked into voting for him. You should lose your right to vote!!!!!

    December 6, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. Brian in DC

    Who is actually running the WH/govt? Obama never knows about anything. What the heck does he do all day?

    December 6, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Juan in El Paso

    Obama lied! Big surprise.

    December 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. scottoest

    Oh goody – does this mean we're back to endless talk about how he's a Kenyan double-agent or something?

    December 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. TomGI

    I'm thinking that if Obama would lie about this trivial matter he would lie about more substantive issues.

    December 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. mike

    So what?

    December 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Steve

    Ok not a huge deal when it started, but for us to believe that his staff checked his book and did their own research and never in a conversation said- did you ever live with this guy? JC, I know everyone lies, but make it a little believable please.

    December 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. winchester74

    Did he or didn't he – the fate of the world rests in the balance ... right ???

    December 6, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Chuck

    Hmm, could be this is his REAL Father!

    December 6, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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