It's complicated

Who is Malik Obama, Donald Trump’s surprise guest for the second debate?

AP

Leave it to Donald Trump to turn a guest list into a political weapon.

Ahead of the second presidential debate, Trump raised eyebrows by inviting women who had each accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.

On Tuesday, he continued the trend, announcing that among his guests for Wednesday’s third and final presidential debate will be Malik Obama—President Barack Obama’s older half-brother.

“I look very much forward to meeting and being with Malik,” Trump told the New York Post. “He gets it far better than his brother.”

What, if anything, this Obama has to do with the upcoming election remains unclear at best. Despite his non-sequitur of an invitation from The Donald, however, Malik’s appearance on team-Trump isn’t a total shock—he’s been a public supporter of the Republican nominee since July. At the time, he told the Post that he liked Trump “because he speaks from the heart,” adding that “’Make America Great Again’ is a great slogan. I would like to meet him.”

Unlike his brother, Malik is decidedly not with her, telling the Post that Hillary Clinton “should have known better as the custodian of classified information” in regards to her private email server. Additionally, he cites Clinton’s role in the Obama administration’s war in Libya as a further source of dissatisfaction.

“I still feel that getting rid of Gaddafi didn’t make things any better in Libya,” he told the Post. “My brother and the secretary of state disappointed me in that regard.”

So, who is Malik Obama, and how did he go from presidential sibling to debate-night invitee? Here are a few things to know.

He’s one of President Obama’s seven half-siblings.

Malik Obama, 58, is the eldest son of Barack Obama Sr., the president’s father, and his first wife Kezia. According to the Post, Obama Sr. left one-year-old Malik, and Malik’s mother, in Kenya in 1959, and moved to Hawaii, where he met President Obama’s mother. The president and Malik first met one another in 1985.

He and President Obama used to be close.

In a 2004 Associated Press article about then-Senate candidate Obama’s older brother, Malik said the two half-siblings had been the best man at one another’s weddings. In his memoirs “Dreams of My Father,” President Obama wrote about Malik (then named “Roy”):

The person who made me proudest of all, though, was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam, and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol. He still works at his accounting firm, but talks about moving back to Kenya once he has enough money.

He has dual citizenship, and lives in the Obama family’s ancestral Kenyan village.

After growing up in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Malik Obama spent a number of years living in Maryland, where he worked as an accountant. He then moved to Kenyan town Nyangoma-Kogelo, and ran an electronics shop on the outskirts of the village. According to the AP’s 2004 profile, he also worked as a “consultant in Washington” for several months each year, as well.

He dabbled in politics himself.

In 2013, Malik Obama decided to follow his younger brother’s example, and declared his intention to run for the governorship of the Kenyan county of Siaya. His campaign slogan was a playful nod to his renowned sibling: “Obama Here, Obama There.”

“Siaya county is facing a lot of problems from poor infrastructure to poverty due to bad leadership,” he was quoted in Bloomberg as saying at the time. “I will change this if elected.”

He lost, reportedly earning only 694 votes.

Like his brother, he also wrote a book about his father.

Barack Obama Sr.: The Rise and Life of a True African Scholar” is Malik Obama’s ode to both his and President Barack Obama’s shared parent. In it, Malik speaks glowingly about Barak Obama Sr., saying, “His passion was education, honesty, and perfection. He had lofty ideals and was generous and kind. He had his shortcomings, as is natural for all of us.”

He runs his own charitable foundation, though it ran into some trouble with the IRS.

In 2008, Malik Obama founded the Barack H. Obama foundation—named after his father, Barack Obama Sr.—which seeks “to elevate the human condition so that everyone can live in dignity and truly enjoy having one another as neighbors.”

In 2011, the New York Post reported that the foundation’s claims of being a federally recognized, tax exempt charity were false, and quoted a former state department official as saying no tax exempt paperwork had been filed.

According to a disclaimer on the foundation’s home page, “The foundation is entirely the idea of Abon’go Malik Obama, in memory of their father, and is not dependent on the endorsement of his brother, President Barack Obama.”

The foundation has since been approved by the IRS, with Malik Obama telling the Post “My brother didn’t help me at all. He wanted me to shut it down when I set it up. He hasn’t supported me at all.”

He hasn’t seen his brother since 2015.

Speaking with Page Six, Malik said that he last saw President Obama just after the later visited Kenya in August, 2015. “I went to the White House to say hello. I paid a courtesy call,” he told the paper. “As usual, it was a hands-off kind of thing, very businesslike, very formal.”