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. Madeline from New York

    Is this supposed to be our "October/November Surprise"....try again McCain. I'm still voting for Obama/Biden and so is everyone else I know.

    November 1, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    REPUBLICANS WILL DO ANYTHING TO STEAL THE ELECTION, i AM SURE WE WILL NEVER FIND OUT THAT TRUELY MC CAIN IS THE ONE AND ONLY ONE THAT BROUGHT HER OVER HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, JUST TO CAST SUSPESION ON OBAMA

    November 1, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. President THAT ONE 2008

    This doesn't matter....I've already voted Obama-Biden!

    November 1, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. canta

    He must have known she was here. He may not have known about immigration. Afterall, she is his aunt.

    November 1, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  5. Karen - Tired of McCain and Bush Administration

    It is obvious this leak 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 who is his half sister who hasn't spoken to Obama in years and so what if she had spoken to him. I don't know everything about my Aunts life and this is an immigration problem, so Bush/McCain leaked this story hoping this would be news worthy and change the American people minds.

    What's really obvious is CNN trying to perpetrate an October surprise. WOW, how low can you go?

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

    November 1, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  6. DIANNE

    REPUBLICANS WILL DO ANYTHING TO STEAL THE ELECTION. I AM REALLY SURE WE WILL NEVER HEAR THE TRUTH THAT MC CAIN IS THE ONE AND THE ONLY ONE WHO BROUGHT HER TO THE UNITED STATES JUST TO GIVE SUSPISION TO OBAMA. IF OBAMA HAD ANY TIES TO HIS FATHERS SIDE, THAN I AM SURE HE WOULD NOT HAVE RUN FOR SENATE NOR PRESIDENT.WHO IS MC CAIN TRYING TO IMPRESS THESE DAYS " HIS WIFE"

    November 1, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. C. Chamberlin

    The RNC is running ads in Atlanta with Jeremiah Wright calling Obama the candidate of Hate - saying he is risky. Stop giving McCain praise for staying above the fray - with these kinds of nasty divisive tactics - he truly doesn't deserve the praise

    November 1, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. chuck

    You can expect ANYTHING FROM GUIALINI <ROVE AND CHENEY.THREE SCUMBAGS THAT SHOULD BE LEFT TO PUNISH FOR THEIR DEEDS ALONG WITH BUSH AND McCAIN.These should be sent to GiTMO with the other terrorists.

    November 1, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Josh In North Carolina

    The conservative machine will do everything possible to steal the election,
    At the same time, the republicans continue to throw stuff at the walls with the hope that some of it will stick. They simply do not want to debate the issues with integrity because they are incapable of doing so.

    We true patriots must run up the score, beyond the reach of those who endeavor to steal close elections, i.e., conservative right-wing religious fanatics who do not live by their own doctrine.

    November 1, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  10. Serena

    The Republicans are just disgusting. They have run the most sleaziest campaign in history. I am not shocked that it was leaked right before election day. DISGUSTING!

    November 1, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  11. obama supporter

    When is someone going to release the info on the vietmam war collaboration by john mccain. who sided with the vietnese and spoke against the US to save himself. He is no war hero. He is a war coward. Also about Palins ties to the NAP an antiamerican group whose founder hated America so much he would not be buried under the US flag. Lets get the truth out here. Barrack is a hero to me and I compare him to JFK. JH

    November 1, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. David

    Your article is incorrect. You state that her contribution is being returned because she is not a US citizen. However, it is being returned because she is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident of the US. Citizens and permanent residents are both allowed to contribute to a political campaign.

    November 1, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  13. catmom

    And this has what to do with Obama and his Presidential run? More irrelevant smears from the McCain Camp.

    November 1, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. BJ

    Yeah David, DEFLECT and SIDE STEP again!!! That's the common response from your camp.

    What you're not addressing is... WHY did Obama accept HER campaign donations? He must know she's here illegally.

    November 1, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  15. Karen - Tired of McCain and Bush Administration

    It is obvious this leak 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 who is his half sister who hasn't spoken to Obama in years and so what if she had spoken to him. I don't know everything about my Aunts life and this is an immigration problem, so Bush/McCain leaked this story hoping this would be news worthy and change the American people minds.

    What's really obvious is CNN trying to perpetrate an October surprise. WOW, how low can you go?

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

    November 1, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Of course it is suspicious. I am very positive that the AP had information on Obama's aunt months ago. Why release the information three days before the election? I smell a GOP skunk!

    November 1, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. Harry

    McCain is grasping at straws.

    November 1, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Enough.

    How many other non-citizens made contributions to Obama's campaign?

    Sounds like it's pretty easy to get away with – and very illegal.

    November 1, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    This is odd. But, I'm sure that Team McCain has been working on drudging up whatever is out there against Obama.
    Another tactic towards the strategy of making Obama "Foreign."

    November 1, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. SueB

    Perhaps while you're at it, you should investigate what Barrack knew. There were two major clues that he knew about her status long before the AP pointed it out to him, despite his tardy denial after consultation with his advisors on what to say and when to say it. First, he wasn't exactly overjoyed when she was found, in fact he didn't even comment on the finding of his long lost dear aunt. When found, she said she couldn't talk to anyone until after the election was over. Both of their reactions led me to immediately determine with 99% certainty that she was here illegally and had been hushed up. Glad the AP had the guts to print it.

    November 1, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Howard

    FORGET ABOUT VOTER FRAUD ... HOW ABOUT CANDIDATE FRAUD !!!
    Makes me think,
    Sat in a Church for 20 years but didn’t know Wright was a racist, Did business with Ayers for 15 years but didn’t know he was a terrioist. Bought property from Resko but didn’t know he was shady. Didn’t know Dr. Khalid Abdullah was anti Semite. Didn’n know Auntie Zeituni is here illegally (living in Public Housing and contributing to his campaign illegally). Sent a Director from his campaign to a meeting with Islamic Terriost but didn’t know. Seems to me he doesn’t know some very important things….or did he and is not being honest! Obama is a dangerous man!

    1. Occidental College records –Not released
    2. Columbia College records – Not released
    3. Columbia Thesis Paper – “not available”
    4. Harvard College records – Not released
    5. Selective Service Registration – Not released
    6. Medical records – Not released
    7. Illinois State Senate schedule – “not available”
    8. Law practice client list – Not released
    9. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate – Not released
    10. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth – Not released
    11. Harvard Law Review articles published – None
    12. University of Chicago scholarly articles – None
    13. Your Record of baptism – Not released or “not available”
    14. Your Illinois State Senate records– “not available”

    November 1, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  22. Tom

    That close to his family, is he?

    November 1, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. Griff

    Barack Obama!! The Guy who forgot his Mum had a Sister???
    This Guy keeps so much in the Closet. The Fall of the house of Obama.

    November 1, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  24. lovable liberal

    Republicans have proven over and over again that they will use the government for their own benefit. While that has not been shown in this case (yet!), there's no good reason not to suspect it.

    November 1, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. PDX Gal

    Of course- every thing that the M/P campaign has said about Obama that is used to answer the question "What are M/P's plans for America?" makes thinking people REAL suspicious.

    November 1, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
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