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. Joe in Michigan

    Sure looks like sleazy tactics. Now I think I'll vote Obama for sure and start knocking on doors till Tuesday morning. The republicans are running the sleaziest campaign ever. Why doesn't someone ask Mccain why he's accepting 800,000 dollars from the Vegas gamling voices.?

    November 1, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. lil

    We all know that that information was released on purpose and
    who released it.

    November 1, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. DJ

    How ridiculous. Obviously McCain camp is overly desperate.... When will they figure out the more they sling, the farther they sink!

    November 1, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. ritgarr

    This from a candidate whose own wife won't even recognize her own half-sister & calls herself an "only child". Why would anyone expect Obama to keep track of every possible relative he may have? I probably could walk by relatives of my dad's, who died in 1969, and not even know who they were. These desperate people are getting truly disgusting! And making a big deal about her whopping $265 donation is a bigger joke. How about McCain's tens of thousand in questionable donations from Shi Sheng Hao and his relatives and Chineese businesses??

    November 1, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. JJW

    This information being made public is a "breach of confidentiality" and that is the real issue. I think Chernoff needs to get to the bottom of this matter and fast. I'm originally from Scotland where the Loch Ness Monster seems to raise its ugly head at the most opportune moments. I suspect something monsterous is going on here.

    November 1, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. dgs Louisville

    Is this the best the RepubliKKKlans can come up with?

    November 1, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. S in AK

    Is this the best that the GOP can come up with?

    One of the many reasons I changed my registration from Republican to Undeclared was the pick of Palin. Choosing her was a sign of End Times for the Republican Party. GOP has gone off the rails!

    November 1, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. Sarita Zuniga

    I'm appauld how low the McCain camp stoops just? He has sold his soul to the devil. Who wants a President like that?

    November 1, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Navy Vet

    So why is Obama being tasked with explaining her dilemma? smells of a set up to me. Why not prosecute the people who knew she was here illegally and failed to report it until now. The people that leaked this story knew about her and just waited until now to release the info to try and shed negative light on Obama.
    So, let's get Mr. Chertoff off his duff and have him investigate who knew what and when. And if she is here illegally, who approved her to reside in the government or city housing? What credentials did she have to present to be approved for the housing?
    Its a ruse and a stinky one ala Karl "The PizzaHut" Rove.
    Those Republicans – have you no shame? How do you go to sleep at night after playing dirty all day? You know this stuff is going to haunt you at the most inappropriate time during the rest of your life.
    I think G.W. Bush should step in and grant the woman asylum based on the fact that her information was divulged inappropriately and illegally to the public. C'mon G.W, do something positive for a change. Make yourself look good on the way out! Give the woman a break.

    November 1, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Chelle - Ft.Lauderdale, FL

    This has McCain and Palin written all over it. It's so funny to me how this is automatically suppose to reflect any way on Obama. His aunt is grown, he's not responsible for her actions!

    They are doing the right thing by refunding her monies since he is not allowed any monies from those that are not US citizens.

    Nice try McJerk and sidekick!

    November 1, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  11. McCain is a national disgrace

    Cheney endorses McCain!

    That should say it all – the evil behind the Bush throne comes out for McCain "proudly". Cheney must love McCain's nasty and hate-filled lies he is desperately throwing out at Obama.

    Vote Obama!

    By the way – Palin is lying again – McCain DOES plan to cut Social Security and Medicare!!!! He has said so many times. McCain also plans to continue the war in Iraq and plans to bring back the Draft so he can get the troops he needs to keep the wars going. Do you wanty to lose your Social Security? Do you want your son or daughter sent to fight more stupid and useless wars?

    If not, then you had better vote for Obama! He is the only true candidate who cares about ALL Americans and their lives. All McCain cares about is himself, his rich friends, and all the large corporations who fund his campaign. McCain and Pallin are VERY DANGEROUS for America!!

    Get out the vote for Obama! Take a friend or a neighbor and be prepared to stand in line for as long as it takes! We need every vote to make sure we protect Americans for more of the same rich people-oriented programs McCain has planned.

    VOTE and make your voice known. This is your future and only your vote can protect it!

    Go Obama!

    November 1, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. La Raza

    McCain is mentally unfit to be president.

    November 1, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Sarita Zuniga

    I'm applaud how low the McCain camp stoops just to be President. What happened to this hero's character? He has sold his soul to the devil. Who wants a President like that?

    November 1, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. chelsea

    If you...CNN...cannot verify the information... then why...in the heck...did you report it to begin with?

    November 1, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. former gop

    What else ya got, pathetic McCain and Cruella De Palin? Oh my God, Obama's got an ingrown toenail!

    November 1, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. indepdentvoter10

    OHH GOP, your are so very desperate not to mention hateful. This information isnt going stop my vote. You silly rabbits. Is this all you have.

    November 1, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. DFoster

    Really ... what does she have to do with anything. This is her personal problem not Barack Obama's. Who's fault is it that she can't legally reside here? It's hers ... idiots!!

    November 1, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Cristiano-ronaldo from Paris

    Of course everything is done in purpose. Just before the election you need to speak about the aunt of Barack.

    Comonnnnnnnnn CNN give us a break?

    Why are you not serious????

    November 1, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. stacy

    what a bloated statement.

    November 1, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. kathe]

    CNN check out the spoof phone call Palin had with what she truly believed was the president of France. I heard excerps on a Canadian radio and her gigle sounded like a 13 year old.

    November 1, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. Steve G

    Everything about Obama is suspicious.
    Maybe his aunt knows where Barack's Kenyan birth certificate is,
    or where he got the funds for his education and travel.
    Since she is poor, and his brither is straving in Kenya and supports himself as a street fighter.
    This is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on the uninformed American public.

    November 1, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. MONGO,,,,,,,,MONGO

    THE,,,,,,,,,,FACTS,,,,,,,,,,,,SPEAK,,,,,,,,,,,,FOR,,,,,,,,,,,,THEMSELVES,,,,,,,,,,,,

    MR,,,,,,,,,,,OBAMA'S,,,,,,,,,,,CONTINUING,,,,,,,,,,,,LINE,,,,,,,,,,,,,OF,,,,,,,,,,,,

    "I,,,,,,,,,KNOW,,,,,,,,,,,,NOTHING",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,IS,,,,,,,,,WEARING,,,,,,,,,,,,THIN,,,,,,,

    FIRST,,,,,,,,,,,,,AYERS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,RESKO,,,,,,,,,,,,,,WRIGHT,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,KHALIDI,,,,,,,

    AND,,,,,,,,,,,,NOW,,,,,,,,,,,,HIS,,,,,,,,,,,AUNT,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    IT'S,,,,,,,,,,,,TOO,,,,,,,,,,,,,MUCH,,,,,,,,,,,,,,TO,,,,,,,,,,,SWALLOW

    November 1, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  23. Ovais Malik

    It is just another attempt to distract from the real issues. It is so much clear that who is focusing on what?

    November 1, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Vero

    Sorry GOP, but even if you start attacking Obama by claiming he Pals around with illegals it will not change my vote for him. Obama is still the better canidate.

    November 1, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  25. Karen - Tired of McCain and Bush Administration

    It is obvious this link came from the Bush Administration. This is NOT an issue and I'm shocked how CNN is wasting time on this story. This is the Aunt of Obama Father half sister who hasn't spoken to Obama in years and so what if she had spoken to him. I don't know everythng about my Aunts life and this is a imigration problem, so Bush/McCain linked this story thinking this would be news worthy and change the American people minds.

    CNN has now lost another viewer and I will not be watching the election on CNN.

    November 1, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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