The White House confirmed on Thursday that President Obama had met his uncle, Onyango Obama, who was granted legal residency to the country this week — reversing a previous statement.
The White House had previously told The Boston Globe that the president had never met his uncle, after Onyango — referred to as Omar — was arrested in 2011 for drunk driving.
“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 said. “Nobody spoke to the president.”
The question arose again when Obama’s uncle, who had been living in the country illegally for nearly 40 years, told a deportation hearing on Wednesday that Obama briefly stayed with him at his apartment during college.
“I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask [the president],” Carney said. “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 the president's apartment was ready.”
The White House maintained that the deportation case was processed without interference.
“Absolutely zero interference, yeah,” Carney said.
President Obama’s aunt was also granted asylum in 2010 by the same judge.
Tommy Vietor, former National Security Council spokesman under Obama, called it a "huge error," but said there is not much scandal past that.
In a string of tweets, he added that he sympathized with the communications staffers who have to ask the president about this kind of story. He said there are more important issues since there is no evidence that Obama’s uncle got special treatment.
WH saying Obama never met uncle when they lived together is huge error. But beyond that bad mistake, whats the problem w meeting your uncle?— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) December 5, 2013
.@OKnox Yes, but i sympathize with those who have to ask the President countless things a day far more important than if he knew his uncle.— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) December 5, 2013
--This report was updated at 3:46 p.m.