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. tarura

    Not a lie my friends, just "not entirely accurate"

    December 6, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  2. G_Edwards

    When is Pres Obama going to help support his own family, instead of letting the taxpayers do it?


    December 6, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. JD

    Its not that he lived with him.. WHO cares, its the Point He liled about it and his staff is trying to cover it up saying he had no knowledge of it.. its like saying bush did not know there were no WMD cause his staff did not tell him..

    Its that He lied about it.. I could care less if he lived with his dad in a hut on the beach for all i care

    December 6, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. David L Laidig

    More cons attempting to make something out of nothing. When you can beat your heros' dishonesty with the Iraq invasion, we will worry about who our president lived with before college.

    December 6, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  5. Papastrick

    Did Obama say he hadn't met him? Or, did someone else say it? Get your facts straight before you make a fool of yourself.

    December 6, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  6. Robert

    Seriously, is there ANYTHING that will cause you Obamabots to not swoon over him? You people are like Obama groupies. The simple truth is he's just not a very good President. Period. He got in because he's a great speaker and he told people exactly what they wanted to hear. But only 'Bots would be denying that he's got serious leadership issues. Is there ANYTHING he could do that would keep you from groveling at his feet??

    December 6, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  7. MarkS101

    Gee, another Obama lie exposed!

    December 6, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. PromisedLand

    Liberals have outdone themselves. They actually elected a bigger failure than Jimmy Carter.

    December 6, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  9. Jarwinken Wiah

    There are many things worth worrinying about than Obama's relationship with relatives. There are so many people worrying food to eat, place to sleep...

    December 6, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. PromisedLand

    I'd be upset If I had voted for this President too. I feel for all the people who voted for this buffoon, he's an embarrassment to me and I didn't even vote for him.

    December 6, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  11. didgusted

    whats the big deal, didn't president Bush lie about wmf and that was more detrimental to the country because a lot of innocent people lost their lives over his BIG LIE!!!! so right wingers give me a break. In fact all politicians lies and the republicans more so than ever. Leave Obama alone

    December 6, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. OBG

    Unbelievable. It's not enough that Obama lied about knowing his uncle, now he's lying about not being involved in the original denial.

    How can any reasonable person have any faith or trust in Obama? The man has zero integrity.

    December 6, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. PromisedLand

    Dear Mr. President Barack Obama,

    Stop the lies because you have clearly proven you are not smart enough to cover them all. I don't care what color you are and the fact is you are just as much white as you are black. Just stop the lies, you are an embarrassment to our country.

    December 6, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  14. Dawn

    Can Obama ever get his facts straight on ANYTHING???

    December 6, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  15. wrm

    I don't know why anyone cares in the first place but why lie about it? How stup!d, on both sides of the aisle.

    December 6, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  16. PromisedLand

    If you think Republicans won a lot of seats in 2010, you haven't seen anything because 2014 will bring a tidal wave of conservatives. Liberalism and the socialist march in this country have Barack Obama as their leader and it looks really, really, really bad!

    December 6, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  17. Shan

    How many other lies have been told? About what?

    If lies are told about something like this, why in the world would we believe this administration tells the truth about anything?

    All while claiming to be the most transparent administration in the history of America.... Is that still on the White House site?

    December 6, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  18. He said what????

    Are we supposed to be surprised that he lied again. What difference does it make. His credibility is in the toilet. We have a joker running this country into the ground and we're just sitting back watching it happen. The democrats should stay as far away from him as possible if they want to get re-elected.

    December 6, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  19. earth

    The Largest Human Rights Issues in the world " America's Immigrants Issues"

    December 6, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  20. Lela

    Why exactly was this report given importance? Why not discuss the issues that Obama really did mess up and we all know it and then talk about the solutions to those messes instead.

    Why not just talk about matters that really matter for a change?

    December 6, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  21. Robin Jones

    Is the fact that Obama lived with his uncle a big deal? No. Is the fact that lies, half-truths, and intentional omissions keep coming out of the White House a big deal? Absolutely yes. Here we have yet another Jay Carney spin dance. How many more of the "there is no record of" evasions he has spouted will turn out to be utterly false? No surprise that White House credibility is in the toilet.

    December 6, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  22. DC

    The plot thickens.

    December 6, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  23. badcyclist

    IMPEACH OBAMA!!! Because this is clearly in the high crimes and misdemeanors category. This is WAY WORSE than starting a war under false pretenses, for example. It is even worse than trying to insure poor people.

    December 6, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  24. Gman90210

    "where he has lived illegally for the past five decades"

    How much taxes did he pay for the last 5 decades? Oh that's right, you paid his taxes.

    December 6, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  25. Gwebster

    You seriously could not write a better script

    December 6, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 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