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. xplane

    Lies, Lies, Lies. Can Obama ever tell the truth. No, the fact that he did or didn't live with his uncle or did or did not ever meet him is not important. The fact that our president can't stop lying is important.

    December 6, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Caucasian Republican Presidents have been lying since the Civil War.....Next

    December 6, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Syd

    OMG OMG HE Lived with his uncle! He lived with his uncle?? What? How? Wha... wait, why do we care?

    December 6, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. doucetnp1

    Oh boy, let's impeach him! Seriously, who freaking cares. Many of you Obama haters will, undoubtedly, cry foul and concoct a conspiracy theory as to why this is coming out now and who did what when, etc. I don't know even why I have wasted these words because it doesn't matter! Non-story, moving on.

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

    Oh, and Obama's word is good for something? Dude lies more than Bush.

    December 6, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. not quite right

    why has his uncle been here illegally for decades?

    December 6, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Gail me

    CNN seems to be throwing everything at Obama hoping something sticks. Disingenuous at best. This is ridiculous and I am not even a democrat. Time to ax John king and his talking points agenda and let real reporters get back on the job so we can uncover the scandals in the house where we have the most unqualified anti-science congress in the history of our union.

    December 6, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Terry

    Lies and more lues and pathetic excuses.

    December 6, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Virtues

    It's something called integrity. Obama nor this administration has it. If he lies in the smaller matters, what makes you think he won't lie in the bigger matters. Honestly, if they can't be truthful about something as small as this, then I simply cannot believe anything the White House or Obama says

    December 6, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Carol

    This is a story? Who cares?

    December 6, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. JP


    it shows that this administration will LIE about everything and anything...

    it is a SAD reflection on YOU that you don't care

    December 6, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Jack 2

    Lets see...he lied on benghazi, helied about Obamacare and now this

    December 6, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. capiers

    His uncle lived in the United States why is this a story

    December 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. PJ

    What difference does it make. President Obama is our first Black President and most of the country is proud of him..

    December 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Chaz

    and I am guilty of watching every X-files episoide point is...whats the point. who cares...

    lets investigate why all those mortgage brokers made the country go broke 10 years ago

    December 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. JackBriss

    everyday, the BS with Obama deepens. Lies from all angles.

    December 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. JimiJoni

    There sure seems to be a lot of unknowns and cover ups surrounding Obama's past. Everything from where he was born to his college transcripts and past relationships. I suspect once he leaves office more & more stories such as this revealing the real truth will be ongoing news. In the meantime, we'll just have to continue putting up with this Administrations consistent pattern of lies.

    December 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. avd

    When democrats lie, liberals declare "yea, so, he's a politician, get over it!"

    When republicans lie, liberals declare "you blood sucking, drug addict, no faced bold lying, christian, moronic killer, etc..."

    somehow the left never sees the big picture.

    December 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. The Ole Skool Fool

    Why are Yall hating us so much? I just don't understand

    December 6, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Who cares, oh, the GOP like it's any of their business !!!!!!!!

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

    Pants on fire yet?

    December 6, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. hdivs

    The Most transparent president lies again. He's garbage.

    December 6, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. xplane

    "the President himself had never been consulted about their relationship". What a LIE !!!

    December 6, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. jon55

    "He lied again? The O' s lips moving now signal another lie."

    I guess I have to re-read the article. On first read, I didn't see anything that said Obama lied.

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

    Libs–you're missing the point. It's not that Obama lived with a Kenyan uncle that's a problem. It's the fact that this is YET ANOTHER thing Obama has flat out lied about to the American people.

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