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. What the hell is this

    this is not news...

    December 6, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Chorkle71

    Just imagine the kind of heat a Caucasian Republican president would take lie after lie...what am I saying? A Caucasian Republican president lying like this would have been impeached long ago.
    Isn't the total insanity of weaponized political correctness wonderful?

    December 6, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. mike

    This president is laughing at all of you foolish believers because you are soooo easy to get over on. You would believe a turd to be rose if he told you so.

    December 6, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Gail me

    Another manufactured John king faux scandal. Wish CNN would stop the talking points bs from both parties and just report on real news

    December 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Bobo

    @Unreason & Illogical. So, since the last guy got away with murder so should the next. And what about the next, or is only people you didn't vote for.

    December 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. S Shrestha

    Liar... Liar...

    December 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Rick

    So just ANOTHER case where Obama lied.

    No big deal. We have had five years of nothing but lies anyway. What is one more.

    December 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Pointless

    This is completely pointless. The most significant thing this administration needs to address is our nations debt and no one seems to give a ****.

    December 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. What a surprise

    What a surprise!! Another negative administration story on POLITICALTICKER.... with no comment voting.

    December 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Richard

    I don't care much about Obama and his socialism, he should just move to Venezuela and be happy, but who cares if he lived with his uncle? no matter his immigration status

    December 6, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Polopoint

    more lies, misspokens and half/part truths.

    December 6, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. nikosan

    Who Cares, Its Not the Twin Towers.

    December 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. John Baker

    Liars lie about everything – important or not. This is simply emblematic of his entire life.

    December 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Kiran

    Really? With all the resources available, is this the best headline CNN could fine.

    December 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. The Brutal Truth

    Can't Obama be honest about ANYTHING???

    December 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. Catsmirk

    I don't understand how people can post comments saying this is a non-issue and doesn't matter. Of course it matters; the President was just caught in yet another lie, to go along with the NSA spying issue and numerous lies about Obamacare. It's an issue because it impacts his integrity and how other people, to include the heads of state of other countries, regard him and this country, in general. Who can trust the word of someone or a country with no integrity? Why should they? This isn't about one party or the other "winning", it's about someone caring so little about his personal and our national reputation that lying about almost anything is the norm. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a child, a neighbor or the Pres; it's just wrong.

    December 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. capiers

    Why is this a news story? I pretty sure this President isn't the first or last to omit information (lie). It's hilarious how people jump on this as if it is truly harmful to his credibility. If you think it is then every President has lost credibility for their lies.

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Jack 2

    First it was Benghazi then Obamacare and now this. When does it stop?

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Bob C.

    LIAR. LIAR. Presedential Robe on fire. Wait, it was Bush's fault. All you defenders of the president are delusional. Open your eyes and stop worshipping. Support another liberal socialist. I am beginning to worry about you and your perceptions

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Logictox

    Obama: Oh oh oh, you meant that uncle. Yea I might have met him once. I thought you were asking about another family member living here illegally.

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. not quite right

    i guess jay carney loses his job then...or did that happen with the earlier guy?

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. C Robbins

    I could care less!!

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Gary Ruber

    Usual obfuscation by a politician. That means Obama was lying, just like he is doing with Affordable Care.

    December 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Mike

    So he lived with his uncle for a bit. Who cares?

    December 6, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Alan

    Why does anyone care, if Obama lived with an uncle 30 years ago? This shows the depths the right wing will go in trying to destroy the president. No matter what he did 30 years ago, he's done a much better job as president than George W ever did.

    And as far as the ridiculous comments made about "Impeach Obama," I wonder if any of these people realize that Joe Biden would become president if Obama was impeached? Is anyone foolish enough to think that the country would be better with Biden as president? Give me a break!!!!

    December 6, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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