Nearly two years ago the White House claimed they’d never met. Two days ago, Uncle Onyango claimed — on the witness stand at his deportation hearing — that not only had they met, O stayed with him for a few weeks in Boston before he started at Harvard Law. Who are you going to believe? A man who cheated to stay in the U.S. illegally, or the president of the United States?

Right. Believe the illegal.

Best line here: “This time, the press office asked the president directly.”

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.

“The President first met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “The President did stay with him for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready. 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.”

The funniest part is that the White House felt nervous enough about it to lie in the first place. What would have happened if they’d come clean a year ago? Without proof that Obama knew at the time that his uncle was here illegally, there’s nothing to show complicity in or tacit endorsement of his behavior. Birthers would have had some fun with the theory of one Obama born in Kenya rooming for a few weeks with another, but Obama wasn’t winning their votes to begin with. If anything, you would think the WH press shop would have wanted to spin it into some sort of human-interest pander to the pro-amnesty crowd: I.e. “the president didn’t know Uncle Onyango as an ‘illegal,’ he knew him as a human being — a kind one, who offered him a place to sleep when he needed one,” etc etc. If O was willing to risk a major political backlash from reversing himself on gay marriage, he could have risked a minor day-long kerfuffle over his friendship with his illegal-immigrant uncle 30 years ago, especially given that immigration officials were proceeding with his deportation case. It tells you a lot about his press team, and about Obama himself, that they preferred to reflexively lie about even the smallest potential liability in the run-up to the election than to say, “Yeah, they knew each other in the early 80s but lost touch.”

Makes me wonder what other politically problematic details they decided to sit on until after he was safely reelected. We’ll have to wait until the White House is ready to disclose; the media, whether due to laziness, incuriosity, or partisan aversion to what they might find, has little interest in O’s younger years. Over/under on when Jay Carney breaks the news that Obama’s an atheist: June 2015. Oh, and by the way, Uncle Onyango won his deportation hearing. There’s a rule that says if you made it here before 1972, maintained continuous residency, and are of good moral character — drunk-driving is “moral” enough, apparently — then you qualify for permanent residency. He outlasted the feds, essentially. Obama should invite him to the Rose Garden for the big atheism announcement.

Update: Good point.