White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday that President Barack Obama had lived “for a brief period of time” with his Kenyan uncle in Cambridge, Mass., when he was beginning law school in the 1980s.
The uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, had been facing deportation, but was granted legal residency this week in Boston.
In 2011 White House spokesmen told reporters that Obama and his uncle had never met.
Brian Snyder / Reuters
Onyango Obama, the uncle of U.S. President Barack Obama, arrives for a hearing at a federal immigration court in Boston, Massachusetts, December 3, 2013.
But until this week, nobody on the White House staff had asked the president about the matter.
“Back when this arose, folks (on the president’s staff) looked at the record, including the president's book,” his 2004 memoir Dreams of My Father, Carney said. “There was no evidence that they had met. And that was what was conveyed (to reporters). Nobody spoke to the president,” Carney said.
But when during a deportation hearing the uncle said that Barack Obama had lived with him, Carney said “I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask” the president about his relationship with his uncle. “Nobody had asked him in the past.”
Carney added, “The president has not seen Omar Obama in 20 years and has not spoken with him in 10 years.”
He also said the uncle’s legal status in the United States has been handled by immigration officials with “absolutely zero interference” by anyone at the White House.
The Boston Globe reported Thursday that an immigration judge granted Onyango Obama legal residency based on his good moral character and a provision in immigration law that allows him to get a legal residency because he arrived in the United States prior to 1972.
First published December 5 2013, 12:29 PM