Malik Obama, president Barack Obama’s older half-brother from Kenya, will be attending tonight’s presidential debate as a guest of Donald Trump. Malik, who has previously said he supports Trump over his brother’s pick, Hillary Clinton, told the New York Post that he is ”excited to be at the debate.”
Trump said he was looking forward to meeting Malik. “He gets it far better than his brother,” the Republican candidate told the Post.
The move is meant to throw Clinton off balance, by reminding the Democratic candidate that she doesn’t have the support of even Obama’s brother. But Malik’s presence, a reminder of Obama’s Kenyan roots, could just as easily backfire. Trump, once one of the most vocal proponents of the “birther” conspiracy theory that president Obama was not born in the US, has backpedaled on those claims. He has refused to answer questions about his change of position.
Clinton has invited billionaires, perhaps to remind Trump of questions surrounding his own net worth or lack of support from any head of a Fortune 100 company. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump, will be attending the debate to support Clinton.
Malik’s endorsement of Trump may have more to do with his relationship with his brother. Malik has said the president did little for his extended family in Kenya, failing to further develop US-Kenya ties. He has also said he is angry that Obama did not help Malik’s bid for governorship in the county of Siaya in southwestern Kenya. Obama also does not support his charity, the Barack H. Obama Foundation, based in Virginia.
Malik, who is Muslim, appears unperturbed by Trump’s promise to prevent Muslims from entering the United States.“I’m a Muslim, of course, but you can’t have people going around just shooting people and killing people just in the name of Islam,” he said in July.
He is similarly unconcerned over allegations that Trump sexually assaulted several women. Malik said this week, ”I don’t believe them. Why didn’t they come forward before?”