November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama aide: Timing of news about his aunt 'suspicious'

Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'
Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'

(CNN) - Barack Obama’s chief strategist said Saturday that he thought the last-minute appearance of stories like this weekend’s news that the Illinois senator’s aunt may be living in the country illegally would make people “suspicious.”

The Associated Press has reported that Zeituni Onyango, a native of Kenya, has been living in Boston despite losing an appeal for asylum four years ago. Obama’s campaign issued a statement earlier Saturday that the Democratic nominee “has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed." The campaign also said it would return $265 in donations from Onyango, who is not legally permitted to donate to Obama because she is not a U.S. citizen.

CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status.

On the campaign trail in Nevada, Axelrod said the timing of the report might raise a few eyebrows. "The campaign issued a statement on that," he said. "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign... I think that they're going to take that, they're going to put it in that context."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan questioned both the timing and the source of the news Saturday, sending a public letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff requesting an investigation.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra
soundoff (1,449 Responses)
  1. David A

    Let's face it.. if it wasn't for the DNC messing up FL and MI, we would have our first woman President on Tuesday instead of our first African American one.

    November 1, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Hispanic in CO

    Obama's biggest fear.

    Commercials about his relationship with Rev. Wright.

    Let's cue them up again and again.

    November 1, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  3. jpluto52

    There are 12,000.000 illegals in America and the only reasons why this one makes a difference is her connection to Obama. It is amazing how people will accept a war collaborater and a retarded woman over a man that has more qualifications in his small finger than both put together.

    November 1, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  4. Joel Spray

    Conyers is right. An investigation by Homeland Security is needed .... not for the purpose stated ....rather to immediately discover how to prevent illegal aliens who are denied legal status can somehow continue to live in USA on the dole ... no less.

    November 1, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  5. Lee from FL

    Too little too late...its still game over for McCain and Bush.

    November 1, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  6. repubforobama

    LOL~Is this the best they can do? Just wait, by Monday it will be revealed that the McCain/Bush camp leaked this story. Her personal information is none of our business and most could care less about it.
    For the record, I felt the same about Joe the Plumbers back tax issues. Again, none of our business.
    However, the only candidates that can really help America is the Obama/Biden ticket.
    This republican PROUDLY voted for them today!

    November 1, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  7. vanberkum

    Who cares! I sure can't be responsible for all the things my relatives do. I don't think this kind of information should reflect badly on any candidate-it's simply not that big of a deal.

    November 1, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  8. Paulette Silvey

    Wake up people, that is what you'll wish you could not do when you find out that your nightmare will not go away. if Obama is elected.
    You will all me crying for your freedom when you find out that Obama is not this concern persom about your needs people. I know you will not believe me, and how you wish that you had listen to those who tried to tell you whom this Obama is not.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  9. Santiago

    What else he does not know ?????

    Hardy

    November 1, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  10. Gail

    Let it go Please, this is nonsense, I would not consider this for one moment when I walk into the voting booth.

    November 1, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  11. nkc46

    didnt the times of london break this story thursday?
    was it even a leak? didnt they just ask her. i guess obama campaign cant handle the facts

    November 1, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  12. cool

    Shift the illegal half-Aunt on welfare out of this country!
    Thats the kind of Change we can believe in!
    Maybe Obama has other cousins here illegally
    REP. John Conyers should checkl.

    November 1, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  13. Barb

    We are concerned about revealing a person illegal status, but not about using government resources to trash a private citizan, because he asked a candidate a fair question and the candidate didn't like his OWN answer. We are more concerned about the exposure of
    of an illeagal immigrant, Obama put in his book and not about Mickey Mouse be allowed to vote in Cuyahogen County, or the Dallas cowboys voting unbeknownest to themselves voting in Ohio.
    Barney Frank sees the wealthy (himself excluded) as the government piggy bank, Obama has a whole new Bill of Rights , forget the ones
    the Country started with. Obama sounds just like FDR in his June 11, 1944 speech and we have been throwing money at the same problems for 64 years, and you say his is the party of change and hope. Skip the second amendmant, forget free speech with the "Fairness doctrine,Forget the Right to life, Liberty and the PURSUIT (not guarantee) of happiness.
    Geez , I am ready for someone new. Go McCain/Palin

    November 1, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  14. Kelly in Seattle

    Just last week McCain Started guaranteeing that he would come back in the polls within the last few days of the campaign and win it.
    It sounds like he was ready for his party to release their October surprise. Too bad it's a non-issue. Obama doesn't know what everyone of his relatives are up to.

    November 1, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  15. Will the Real Maverick Please Stand Up?

    Palin/McCain campaign=dirt, sleaze, slander, lies, distortion, no substance, no plan, no policies, dishonesty, hate, corruption, etc.

    Elle–you are wrong

    November 1, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  16. RST

    What dimmocraps don't want to spread the wealth to Obummer's brother and auntie?

    What a bunch of hippo crips.

    Lying Joe Biden and Obummer do not have half the experience of Sarahcuda!

    November 1, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  17. ulric

    how can you hold obama responsible for his aunt actions. please someone explain this for me. this woman is a grown individual living her own life. she is not residing with the obama familiy, that when it should be a problem. these guys need to get a life

    November 1, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  18. cynmcm

    You know its a shame that the rest of the world can see that Obama and Biden is the right ticket for this country. But america does'nt see it, we are so quick to judge people by color, and not by character. We need leaders who speaks of hope, peace and solutions. Not war, enemies, and bomb bomb bomb. We have to find a way to end this war., If we can make peace with the rest of the world we won't have to worry about enemies . We have to sell more products overseas and stop excepting so much from other countries. MCCain just want's to protect the wealthy and special interest. Regualate, regulate, regulate. Things have gotten out of hand. Obama!!!!! 08

    November 1, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  19. erica82981

    Who wants to be held accountable for their aunts and uncles action.. When and if he speaks to this woman is he suppose to ask about her immigration status???? How sick of people to judge him for this are we to judge McSame for him cheating on his wife or Sarah for her daughter being pregnant oh yeah that affects them directly. Will her being here help your 401K will it stop this crisis or end this war will we have a better education system???????

    November 1, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  20. ST.ED

    You people act like you don’t understand politics and it is amazing. We all know that politicians are liar and hypocrites. They embellish the truth, and only tell half of what they know if it benefits them. They also have selective memories and hearings. So what if the lady is an undocumented immigrant? It was the immigration department that dropped the ball on that issue. This issue is of very little consequence at this point because neither of the candidates paid any attention to immigration during their campaigns. The subject of immigration only came up maybe once in each debate. Immigration and social security were the forgotten issues in this election campaign.

    November 1, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  21. TheOneX

    I love how all these people that believe this crap about Obama's aunt being illegal. It does not matter if she is illegal or not , and here is why. I also believe Obama did not know. He has very little if anything to do with his father's side of the family. He had nothing to do with his father all his life. He had little if any contact from his father's side of the family.It would be like saying , if your father left and moved to the other side of the world, would you have contact with his family? or would you grow up with the dide of the family you live with, which would be your mother. We all know the answer to that. Obama has lived with his mother, and grandmother his whole childhood, and has ramained with that family since. he has hardly ever mentioned his father, let alone his side of the family, for a reason. The simple truth is, he has nothing to do with them, or very little, and probably does not even see them once a year on holidays. he had no contact with most of them. So to say he did not know about his aunt, which i am sure he did not have much contact with, is the truth.

    November 1, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  22. Joyce

    Palin needs to go back to Alaska.

    November 1, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  23. Voted for OBAMA on Tuesday in Louisiana

    This is the aunt on his fathers side. The one he only met for a month when he was 10. I have an aunt who lives in California (I think) from my fathers' side of the family. I saw him last the day i learned to tie my shoe. I don't even know this aunt's last name because she is married. I don't even know if she is alive. I believe that this, as well as 'joe the plumber' info was leaked to the press by someone with connections to these databases. The media has connections obviously.

    November 2, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  24. Andrew Kadiegu

    The truth is Obama is not his aunt's keeper! You are blowing this out of proportion. It's a non-issue. Thank you

    November 2, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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