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. maureen

    Sure Obama knew his aunt was illegally living in the US. As for returning his aunt Zeituni Onyango's donation of $265, he should not have accepted it in the first place knowing she is an illegal immigrant.
    Yes, the American Public does have a right to know all information pertaining to a political candidate.

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. slc in ny

    It just shows how widespread this issue is touching the lives of many who have immigrant relatives of recent generations. So what if she is here illegally and she is his aunt, what has it to do with him? He has a large extended paternal family. His father as I understand had three wives, now everytime something happens to one of them, or their offspring are you going to point to Obama? Rediculous, lets deal with the issues.
    Blacks have a difficult time getting into this country anyway. They will let everyone else in but if you black, watch out! I have even noticed it among Hispanics, the white ones get in easier than the brown/blacks. For a long time, I thought Dominicans were white until I went to the Dominican Republic to do missionary work and found that they are of all colors.

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. DR

    CNN you can report this in 3 articles but not one about Joe the Plumber not paying his child support.

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. ROSJ

    Here go the Republicans and the Bush Administration again. What else can McCain & friends do? They are losing.

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. BROOKLYN

    Barack Hussein Obama... OK... There I said it... Will I go to prison now!!!

    Sorry, he who's middle name we do not speak but I had to get it out...

    November 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. David Newport, OR

    Of course it is suspicious. Futhermore...it has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the election. However...isn't it curious that the "leak" came from within the existing Administration? Same old tactics...is this what you want America? If it is...then continue the policies of the last 8 years. Stupidity breeds stupidity.

    November 1, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. MILDRED

    I'VE ALWAYS BEEN A BIG FAN OF CNN BECAUSE I THOUGHT THEY WERE FAIR AND UNBIASED. CNN YOU HAVE PROVEN ME WRONG IN DOING THIS STORY, ESPECIALLY AFTER SAYING YOURSELF THAT YOU HAD NOT INDEPENDENTLY CONFIRMED IT. I REALLY THOUGHT ONLY FIXED {FOX} NEWS DID THIS. I GUESS I'LL TURN YOU GUYS OFF JUST AS I DID THEM. REMEMBER JOE THE PLUMBER AND HOW HE LOST HIS PRIVACY, BUT UNLIKE JOE I BET THIS WOMAN WON'T GET A PUBLICIST AND A RECORD DEAL, JUST HER LIFE INVADED BY YOU AND OTHER NEWS HUNGRY NEWS OUTLETS.

    November 1, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. Lisa - VA

    Is this suppose to be an "OCTOBER SURPRISE"? Surprise..I DON'T care. I have already made of my mind...and unless there is evidence (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post type of evidence) that Obama knows where OBL is hiding...there is NOTHING that's going to keep me from voting for Senator Obama.

    November 1, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Avembe

    Wow what a timing!!!by the way, since the administration knew she wasn't legally living here, why didn't they just put her out????
    Even if he knew, should he have denounced and rejected her...The administration should have done it's job .Period!!!!!!!!!!!!!this is a non issue

    November 1, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Clinton/McCain

    What I find 'suspicious' is that people can use government computers to find out info on Joe the Plumber, but yet no one did research on Obama's relatives in the last year that he's been campaigning? That's called a media cover up, Axelrod.

    November 1, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Ky. Bob

    Of course timing is everything! Bush stole the election in 2000 and 2004, and McCain is just like him.

    November 1, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. California Gold

    This is another non-issue. I am noticing more foreclosed houses in my community and read an article that families are eatting more cereal since it's cheaper and filling. The only ones who care about non-issues are the mud slingers.

    November 1, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. Pat in Cali

    It is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant based on his family's national origin. That applies to both applicants for the presidency.

    CNN what is the point of these tickers?

    This is race baiting.

    November 1, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. MattH

    And I care about any of this because....?

    November 1, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. SICKandTIRED!

    She has been living here for the last 4 years and they just found out? Come on Ameirca, there are 12 million illegal immigrants here in the united states.....

    November 1, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. MikeH

    Actually, it's a non-issue with regards to Obama's campaign.

    It's more interesting as a study of how the press was made aware of this woman. If someone in immigration leaked it for political purposes, there exists a whole chain of command that made the decisions to do it, and the individuals responsible need to identified to the people, I don't care who they are..

    November 1, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Dave

    LOL, Obama was unaware of Rev. Wright being a hate monger, Ayers being a terrorist, and now his own aunt being in the country illegaly. What else is Obama unaware of?

    What else has the main stream media missed while it was having a love affair with Sen. Obama?

    November 1, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. Why is this news?

    Enough, enough of this. What does this have to do with Obama? I have follow this election very closely. I'm looking at this race from a spirtual view. One side talking about bringing people together and the other side speaking hateful acts. This is like good vesus evil.

    Mccain and Palin leaves me very speechless because this will surely come back to bid them, mark my word. This is truly a define moment.

    This is why Mr. Obama is where he is at this time. No one chooses his or her path in life unless, God is in the mist.

    I knew McCain was going to choose a women because, this was revealed to me.

    I know that Obama will win this election because, this was revealed.

    It was reveald that there will be peace down here on earth for a little while longer just before the rapture takes place.

    I also know that the Antichrist is about to be revealed. God revealed that person to me. And believe me, he/she is not a nice person but a very scary one.

    And Mr. Obama is not that person.

    November 1, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. James

    So what....they find his family no matter how distant or not in touch they are and somehow hes supposed to do what republicans?? give them a free ride? so you can say it was all about him and his race? give me a break, typical nowhere story, love the hate filled Palin rallys, as a supporter (if i did support the ditz) id be mad too that my education was absolutely junk. I mean where did they find these people trash dumps? all the things they are saying about liberals and democrats and socialism i mean seriously, wth are they talking about!?!?!?! no wonder they are all over the place with this crap. Are you really afraid of a few tree huggers to the point where your yelling hate at your rallies??? thats unreal, what is this 1st grade? scared of flip flops?? hahahaha you freaks, get a life, get an education. HAHAHA simple simons at it again.

    November 1, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. Michael

    You are basically implying that because of his aunts status whether legal or not, implying that Obama would not responsibly govern the country properly when in fact it has nothing to do with his ability to run the USA. This is just a smoke and mirrors ploy... Republicans get a life.....

    November 1, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. Lisa the engineer and mom

    Remember you people thinking about voting for mccain

    "fool me once, shame on you (bush). fool me twice (mcbush) shame on me" Please don't fall for the trickle down scam again.

    Vote OBAMA

    November 1, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. dave

    The Obama campaign is going to pay back $265. How many more relatives will get money back from this campaign? As far as the timing, so what? If it's true than something should be done about it. In a country with this many people how come we can't get two more qualified candidates? These guys have both been proven to be the stereotypical politicians, crooks!

    November 1, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Paul in FL

    It may be my imagination but I sense a definite drumbeat from CNN in support of McBush and Palin. Maybe they just unconsciously root for the underdog but they seem to emphasize the most insignificant slam against Obama. At least Fox is honest in their bias.

    November 1, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. MissE in OH

    OH YES, IT IS A GOP NOVEMBER SURPRISE!

    But it didn't phase Barack! There are a lot of people I know, family included that are doing things that would be considered illegal that I don't know about but when they are brought to my attention I will deal with them. I am so glad that Barack did the RIGHT thing considering the situation and refund her contributions. I don't think if there was something to hide he would have made excuses for the contributions but he is an honorable man. That is what we need for America. That is the type of person we need as President.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08/'12

    November 1, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. corine smith

    I think whom ever sent that in was trying to make people not vote for him and that's mean

    November 1, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58