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Onyango Obama, President Obama's Kenyan-born uncle. / Steven Senne, AP

Two years after saying President Obama had not met an uncle who faced deportation, the White House said Thursday that Obama lived briefly with him back in the 1980s.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama met Onyango Obama when he arrived in Cambridge, Mass., in the late 1980s to attend Harvard Law School; Obama stayed briefly with his uncle until his new apartment was ready.

Carney said the White House staff based its 2011 claim that the two had never met on a review of the documentary record - including Obama's memoir - and had not asked the president himself.

When the issue resurfaced this week, Carney said, "I thought it was the right thing to do to go ask him (Obama). Nobody had asked him in the past."

On Tuesday, an immigration judge ruled that the Kenya-born Onyango Obama could stay in the United States, saying he met the criteria for legal permanent residency.

During the hearing, Onyango Obama - the half-brother of the president's father - claimed a relationship with his famous nephew.

The president and his uncle have not stayed in touch, Carney said.

"The president has not seen Omar Obama in 20 years and has not spoken with him in roughly 10 years," Carney said.

Carney also repeated that the White House had "absolutely zero" involvement in the uncle's deportation case.

From The Boston Globe, which first reported the story:

"President Obama acknowledged on Thursday that he lived with his Kenyan uncle for a brief period in the 1980s while preparing to attend Harvard Law School, contradicting a statement more than a year ago that the White House had no record of the two ever meeting.

"Their relationship came into question on Tuesday at the deportation hearing of his uncle, Onyango Obama, in Boston immigration court. His uncle had lived in the United States illegally since the 1970s and revealed in testimony for the first time that his famous nephew had stayed at his Cambridge apartment for about three weeks. At the time, Onyango Obama was here illegally and fighting deportation.

"On Thursday, a White House official said the press office had not fully researched the relationship between the president and his uncle before telling the Globe that they had no record of the two meeting. This time, the press office asked the president directly, which they had not done in 2011."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: White House changes story on Obama's uncle

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