After denial, White House now says Obama lived with uncle

December 5, 2013

Onyango Obama, President Obama's Kenyan-born uncle, left, arrives at U.S. Immigration Court with attorney Margaret Wong, right, for a deportation hearing Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 in Boston. He has lived in the United States since the 1960s, when he came here as a teenager to attend school. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Obama lived with his uncle for a brief period in the 1980s while he was a student at Harvard Law School -- despite previously saying there was no record of the two having met.

"The president did stay with him for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. "After that, they saw each other once every few months, but after law school they fell out of touch. The president has not seen him in 20 years, has not spoken with him in 10. "

Onyango "Omar" Obama faced a deportation hearing earlier this week following a drunk-driving arrest. During the hearing, he said that the president had lived with him while he was a student at Harvard.

The Boston Globe reported in 2012, after Omar Obama's arrest, that the White House said he had "never met his famous nephew." The White House now says it only told the Globe that there was no record of the two having met -- not definitively that they hadn't met.

In its report Thursday, the Globe confirmed that the White House initially said that there was no record that they had met. It said the White House never asked for a correction.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at Thursday's White House briefing that, when the issue of Obama’s uncle came up in 2011, the press office "looked at the president’s records, including the president’s book" and found no reference to him.

"That was what was conveyed," he said. "No one had spoken to the president."

When the issue of their relationship came up again during the Boston trial, Carney added: “I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him.”

Carney emphasized that the two men have no relationship at this point. "The president has not seen Omar Obama in roughly 20 years, and has not spoken to him in 10 years," he said.

Omar Obama comes from his father's side of the family and is a Kenyan national. Obama was not close to his father, who left the family when the president was very young.

Obama's relationship with his uncle is also news to scholars of the president, who also found no evidence that the two had met, according to a 2011 Washington Post report.

Omar Obama, 69, was allowed to stay in the United States following his hearing. The White House emphasized that it did nothing to assist him in his deportation case. He had said following his arrest that the president would help him out.

"...Omar Obama’s case was handled routinely, in regular order – without any interference from the president or the White House," Schultz said.

The White House did not comment on the matter Tuesday or Wednesday, despite requests from the Washington Post.

Originally posted at 2:07 p.m. This post has been updated.

RELATED: What did -- and didn't -- the young Obama do? 

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