White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday said President Barack Obama did briefly stay with his illegal immigrant uncle while attending Harvard Law School in the 1980s.
This is a contradiction of what the White House told reporters in 2011, asserting Obama did not know his uncle.
"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," Carney told reporters. "Nobody spoke to the president."
The president's uncle Onyango “Omar” Obama, 69, said at a deportation hearing this week that Obama stayed with him when the president was a student at Harvard. The uncle, whom Carney stressed was the president's father's half-brother, was arrested for drunk driving in 2011 and faced deportation after living in the United States for five decades. The judge decided to let the Kenyan national remain in the United States.
Carney stressed that the uncle is the half-brother of the president's father.
"When Omar Obama said the other day, and there were reports that he 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 said. "Nobody had asked him in the past and he said that he in fact had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school, that he stayed with him for a brief period of time, until his -- the president's -- apartment was ready. After that, they saw each other once every few months while the president was in Cambridge and after law school they gradually fell out of touch. The president has not seen Omar Obama in 20 years and has not spoke with him in roughly 10 years."
Carney said there was "absolutely zero interference" by the White House in Onyango Obama's immigration hearing.
In 1992, an immigration judge had ordered Onyango Obama to leave the United States. According to the Associated Press, the uncle has held a Massachusetts driver’s license since at least 1992 and also had a Social Security number.
Onyango Obama was arrested in Framingham, Mass., in 2011 and charged with driving drunk. He had made a rolling stop at a stop sign and nearly caused a police cruiser to strike his sport utility vehicle, police told the AP.
After being booked at a police station, he was asked whether he wanted to make a telephone call to arrange for bail.
“I think I will call the White House,” he said, according to a report written by Framingham police. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of operating an automobile under the influence of alcohol.
In his 1995 memoir, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," Barack Obama refers to his Uncle Omar, who matches Onyango Obama's background and has the same date of birth. In the book, a young Barack Obama Jr. traces his roots and his 1988 trip to Kenya. He writes about a Kenyan expression about getting lost, meaning to not see someone in a while or to move away and stop communicating — “like our Uncle Omar, in Boston.”