November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
6 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. Blanche Asdot

    I think this story if true has been saved for use in the last few days of the race. Even if it is true Obama very probably never questioned his aunt about her citizenship status., or he would never have accepted her cotribution in the first place.More distraction instead of issues.

    November 1, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. Lawrence in Denver

    This is nothing. If this were true, Obama's aunt is a grown woman and can take care of herself. Obama ain't her keeper! If an issue like this can be questioned than we can question how John McCain left his last marriage. Can question Cindy McCains drug addiction. There are so many things we can bring up but the DEMS will not stoop low.

    Obama/Biden!

    ~Lawrence in Denver

    November 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. mume

    Whatever, republicans we all know U guys are behind this but obama still gonna win on tuesday

    November 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Baby love

    macain/bush can do anything to stole this. Election .

    November 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Gerry in Va. for Obama.

    SUSPICIOUS ????? SUSPICIOUS????? WHY WOULD YOU EVER THINK THAT.....

    You know they are slinging s**t now instead of mud.... Not only does it LOOK bad but it is going to start SMELLING bad too. We who support Senator Obama and Senator Biden know what the repugnicans are up to. BUT IT WON'T WORK THIS TIME...

    VOTE... VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE

    GET RID OF THE STINK .... VOTE... SEND THE STINKERS HOME...

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08-12

    November 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Margo

    Oh really! The problem with all this is that John McCain's reputation is so far in the gutter at this point that anything that comes up is looked upon with suspicion.

    November 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Andy

    So what? Palin's husband wants Alaska to secede. McCain may have killed a person in an automobile accident. Palin herself makes rape victims pay for their rape kits. Having an aunt who may be in this country illegally pales in comparison to the McPain/Ailin ticket.

    November 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Peter (CA)

    Doesn't matter who leaked it and when. It's a non-story. Let her deal with it with officials. Sen. Obama can help her, as appropriate, after Tuesday.

    It's government stuff. If it has been dragging on this long without there being a big issue, what is 3 more days? Again, it's a non-story. Ignore it and it will be taken care of. No need to turn this into something it is not.

    November 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Brian

    Pay no attention to:

    2 endless wars
    Loss of constitutional freedoms
    Dirty politics
    10 trillion dollars of debt
    Economy in recession (maybe a depression)
    Increasing unemployment
    Higher food costs
    Sky rocketing health care costs
    Lack of energy independence
    Loss of prestige around the world
    The knowledge that our country tortures people
    Corruption in government
    The politicization of the Justice department

    Forget all of the above. All that matters is this and the radical right view of Obama (terrorist, socialist, child abuser, etc....).

    Why even bother with elections we are all puppets of Hannity, Rush and O'Reilly.

    November 1, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. allycatred

    IT IS ALL LIES MCCAIN HAS TO PUT SOME THING OUT THERE TO PUT MEAN AND AWFULL THINGS ABOUT OBAMA. THEN JUST MAYBE HE MIGHT GET A VOTE, HE SURE NEEDS ONE OR TWO

    November 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Christine

    Its about time that the truth about Obama comes out. Are the people of this country blind or stupid or both? Can't they see that the Democrats are nothing but out to turn this country into a Socialist Country? Do the citizens of this country want to be controled for the next 4 years? Well they better take a better look.

    November 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Billion

    I think Mccain and Palin and their followers/campaign need to get a life and stop hating. They need to smarten up, and start talking about the issues, and not stupid or idiotic things, in which half of is either NOT true, or half of does NOT matter.

    This one time republican is voting for Obama, because he is legit, and has shown what its like to run a POSTIVE campaign, talking about the issues and what the American people need to hear!

    POST THIS CNN!

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Dennis

    I was just reminded of something else the Obama campaign hasn't used though I think they should. G. GORDON LIDDY, a genuine, actual domestic terrorist who planned bombings. A man that Mccain has said he was proud to call a friend and "pals around with" on a regular basis. Oh wait, that's different.........isn't it?

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Hope Over Fear

    Where is the headline about Ron Reagan's endorsement of Obama? At least what remains of the thinking wing of the Republican Party gets it.

    VOTE OBAMA!

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Shannon

    what, now the timing is suspicious, I though Obama didn't know she was her illegally. LOL, this man sure doesn't seem to know much! Maybe he thinks voting for FISA, was really a good idea, and he was shocked he gave the Bush administration the right to spy on fellow citizens.

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. McCain is too old

    Where is the big ticker story on Cheney's endorsement of McCain?

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. pam Eugene OR

    And this will will help Americans how???? Do I car about his Aunt? Nope!
    All that needs to be said has been said.
    VP Cheney endorses dishonest John McCain for President and Sarah unqualified Palin for VP. Do you need more than that?

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Independent in Arizona

    This story will only anger hispanic voters....more votes for Obama in Arizona!

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is painfully scary to think a department of our government is being used to disclose this kind of information for political purposes. What will our government do next, investigate me because I contributed to Obama's campaign. This is extremely dangerous that our Government is being used for political purposes. WHOSE NEXT.

    November 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. LOOK BYOND

    So what.
    What that has to do with OBama. If they were so very closed. she would have got her status fix long time ago.
    This is the double standard that we see with American foreign policies.
    The European countries are given free access to come to the UNITED STATES, but when Africans what to come to this country then it's a big issue and they give them hell and denied them all access.
    Obama has nothing to do with this, if he knew about this he would have done something about it .The Saudi's are given free access and do not have to get vista to enter this country, so do other Arab nation. But when it comes to Africans... then it's a " BIG NO".
    The time of this issue is the work of the republicans and the racist fox news network.
    72 hours before the election, then you want to raise the issue. ITS NOT GOING TO WORK> NOT THIS TIME HATERS.

    November 1, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Vince -- Northern California

    Come on CNN, like this is a major issue ? Instead of focusing on how Obama/Biden will help citizens that are in danger of losing their homes, jobs to the terrible economic policies that McCain and his Republican cronies support.... This just fuels the fire of the "cave people" who support McCain, and believe his B.S.

    November 1, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. Larry

    Wow what a desperate act. Please before you talk to anyone, ask them of their immigration status. What a life. Hope my republican party learns something from these dirty attacks.

    November 1, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. john

    geez...another low grade tactic from the bush/Mccain admin...
    One word–Repblicans are getting desperate. Anything to win huh!

    Go Obama../Biden

    November 1, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  24. Gary

    Lets put a fence around her house and post Border Gaurds. She may have already registerd to vote with Acorn. I bet she's Mickey Mouse.
    Wait, look thru her window, isn't that Ayers sitting on her sofa. I bet they're plotting something. Shhhhh, if you listen closley you can hear Jeramiah Wright preaching in her back yard
    Idiots

    November 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. Brenda R. Harris

    SO !!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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