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. Megamind

    Still believe that Barry was actually born in Hawaii too? He wasn't. Lie, sham...... we just see more and more of in this second term. I voted for him once, but I wasn't duped the second time around.

    December 7, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  2. Dina

    And just another lie from Obama. I don't believe a word that comes out of that mouth, cause that's all he is a big mouth that lies, that's how he got elected twice. This guy should be erased from history.

    December 7, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  3. meki60

    don't know about the uncle but President Garbage is garbage.

    December 7, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  4. Ernie Boomer

    Another day, another lie

    December 7, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  5. Yeah Sure

    Laughable. Liar In Chief!!!!!!

    December 7, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  6. chet

    Obama makes Richard Nixon look like newly fallen snow! Typical Chicago politician, a lair!

    December 7, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. paul

    Living with his uncle is not news. Lying to the American people about it is. Then placing the blame on his people is wrong. This president is showing that he is very calculating in how he deals with things and when he sees that things are going the wrong way for him, he diverts blame to his people who work for him.


    There is a long list of things he has done (as president all that his administration does HE DOES... "the buck stops here") that is a fib, a lie, a distortion. He is a good president, mind you, but he is also one who suffers from arrogance in thinking that if he isn't the one who says it than he's ok.

    December 7, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  8. stan

    For the kook-aid drinkers understand this: Obama stayed with his uncle for a few weeks, who just happened to have been in the country illegally at the time. That is illegal. Obama knew it was illegal when visiting while attending Law School...get it yet?! Not just Obama's uncle, but his aunt as well. So Obama knew he had illegal alien criminals in his immediate family yet did nothing to either report their actions OR have them apply legally.

    It is criminal, you know against the law, to aid and abet someone in the course of a crime. Obama, as President of the United States of America (and previously as a United States Senator) ignored the Law of the Land for self interest. His uncle was previously twice ordered deported but remained...illegally. There is absolutely nothing racist about the fact that Obama is a liar who bends the law as he sees fit. How many more Obama's are in America illegally?

    December 7, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  9. timeforchange

    Just another nail in the coffin that he attended college in america as a foreign student under the name barry soetro. Just amazing we elected a guy that has been gaming our system since his early days.

    December 7, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. quidestveritas

    come on, who hasn't stayed with someone for several weeks and not remembered they were ever there or ever meeting the person they stayed with. happens to everyone.

    December 7, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. LakeRat1

    When are the Rebublican going to realize, that even if people believe the bad things that they say about Obama, that it just gets tedious to listen to it all the time. I think people expect more out of their elected officials, than a constant monotonous stream of negative comments. This is doing very little good for the people of this country.

    December 7, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  12. Johnny Drama

    People are making a big deal of it because Obama has already proven himself as a liar, and now this just seems to be yet another. Sure, it's not a big deal if you go live with a relative...I'm sure almost everyone has done it at some point, but when your the president, you are dealing with a huge policy issue such as immigration, you have an uncle that is here illegally and refused an order to leave, and then it comes out that you lived with him when it was said that you didn't it all smells a bit rotten. And if it stinks in this administration then something is most likely being covered up.

    December 7, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  13. Maine liberal

    Impeach him ..... 🙂

    December 7, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Jeff from Columbus

    All politicians lie but President Obama takes it to a level we haven't seen since Nixon.

    His lying is habitual – it comes so naturally to him that he seems to have the lost the ability to even know the difference between the truth and a lie. He seems to convince himself that what he WANTS to be reality is actually reality.

    At the very least, we have a President with a MAJOR credibility gap. Plain and simple, we can't believe anything Obama says to us.

    December 7, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. Pismire

    Anyone who is shocked NOW about his trustworthiness -where were you in 2008? Asleep? This guy, his administration, friends, party, are all liars. BECAUSE THEY ARE POLITICIANS. THEY ALL LIE. The republicans are the same way. ALL LIARS. There. now you know the truth- continue to believe in your false heroes so you can sleep well tonight.

    December 7, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Jersey Jeff

    This is definitely not a very truthful administration. In fact, I'd say it's every bit as bad as the Bush administration when it comes to fudging the facts. It's not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue, it's all of our politicians.

    December 7, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  17. AlwaysRite

    More lies from a president who has never told the truth until he gets caught in the lie. He is a disgrace,and should be impeached. What is it going to be this time his cronies got the story wrong and now he just wants to correct it,or is it I had no idea .

    December 7, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. eddie

    I really don't care if his uncle is an illegal or not. It's not really even about his uncle, it's about how Obama constantly lies.

    December 7, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. Jack

    Who cares ? However, trying to mask around such a simple thing is what makes us question Mr. Obama's strength and conviction. He promised many things before campaign that he did 180 degrees. He shamelessly furthered things that Mr. Bush & gang put in place, all the while trying to justify it with some silly reasoning.

    Mr. Obama need to stand up to his cause and beliefs, if he has any. If he doesnt, then its a shame that we elected such a person.

    December 7, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Whitehawk

    I've long suspected that too many of those around Obama offer what they think is the right thing to say. A comment in this, along with some other things I've read and heard in interviews, supports that theory. It seems he puts too much trust in those around him. Sadly, we are so divided that a non-event becomes a point of hysteria for some; they live for the next tidbit to feed the hate.

    December 7, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. Johndedon

    WH, sure President calls shot, they are just cronies. So he lies, again!

    December 7, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. Joyce

    Our President is a pathological liar. That he would 'omit' knowing his uncle, when he actually lived with him for a bit is the kind of lie that pathological liars tell....lies about insignificant things like that, for no reason at all. There is still too much mystery behind this man, but many of the facts we do know are chilling.

    But he talks a good talk, and that's all that matters to the uninformed voters who made him President. I challenge the media now to do their homework. But it will be too little, too late for America.

    December 7, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. opinion8it

    Obama lived for three weeks with his Uncle? ...... should we arrest him now, or do we wait for him to do something really crazy like visit his nephews?

    December 7, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. Yeah, I said it

    "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction."

    I'm more concerned with THAT lie.

    December 7, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. bannister

    Bottom line, the guy should not be in the country – any illegal alien that is caught drunk driving should be deported IMMEDIATELY.

    December 7, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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