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. CollegeStudent4Obama/Biden

    Looks like the Republicans & The Mccain camp are getting desperate. It won't be too long before that "Rev. Wright ace card" will be pulled. Since the GOP can't win on issues, they figure they can win over the American electorate with garbage like this. Well Americans are not the brightest bunch of people which was evident when they elected an idiot cowboy named Dubya. Not once but twice.
    God, Please Help Us!!!

    Obama/Biden 08'

    November 1, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. Centrist

    Cindy McCain's father was a convicted felon. She committed a felony by stealing drugs from a charity.

    November 1, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Greg P.

    Anything to retain power.

    Of course it was intentionally leaked. It isn't like her visa just expired.

    Just another example of the need to change.

    November 1, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. Lori

    Is this news? Obama's aunt is in the country illegally? And what does this have to do with Obama again? Adulterous McCain's mistress (now wife) was a drug addict. Palin's daughter had pre-marital sex and has an illegitimate child in the making. Need I say more? This has nothing to do with Obama so stick to the issues, please.

    November 1, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. Wayne

    Lemmings for Obama .... Our Future Emporer wheres no clothes ...

    November 1, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. me

    CNN, if you don't have worthy news, tell us about your new comedy.
    you funny, sometimes.

    November 1, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. Olbermannluva

    Very odd ! Doesn't the AP know the media muzzle is through Tuesday !!

    November 1, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. nate

    "I know – lets attack this quiet 61 yr old African woman, ruin her life, and maybe we can steal an election too"!

    November 1, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  9. HAJ

    What else is new from the Republicans, dirty politics!! Mc Pain....enough with the mediochre games

    Obama/biden all the way!

    November 1, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. How can this be?

    Why is it everyone else's fault when Obama's skeletons finally emerge from the closet? Williams Ayers, Reverend Wright, Tony Rezko, Illegal Auntie? We almost need to start counting on another hand. We don't live in a place like Communist China (yet). There is still freedom of speech. The press is allowed to investigate and report, at least until Emperor Obama takes the throne and starts exiling reporters who don't agree with him.

    November 1, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. Michael Fisher

    DEMOCRATS were winning!!!

    we outnumber republicans at the polls by over 15% as of today

    IN SWING STATES!!!!!

    KEEP UP THE PRESSURE...we're gonna force the republicans out of the office and maybe even out of politics in general

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08.........lets do it guys!!!

    November 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  12. Dave Bryant

    Big deal !!!

    November 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. Christine

    Within the past 30 days McCain's brother, Joe McCain, called Virginia "communist country" because his brother is losing there and he also called 911 twice to complain about being stuck in traffic.

    I'm voting for a candidate, not their brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles.

    November 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  14. Susan, 56Yrs Old White from OHIO

    IS THIS THE DIRTY AMERICA WE WANT TO BECAME ??? I'm Independent but and was undicided but now I WILL VOTE FOR SURE FOR A BETTER AMERICA, I WILL VOTE OBAMA / BIDEN

    November 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  15. Paul Drake

    Gee, you really think this is suspicious? I'd say it's more than suspicious. If there's anything improper here, it's on the part of the mysterious source or sources of this story. Has anyone asked the AP reporters or their superiors to provide substantiation or name the source(s)? Once the election is over, a Justice Dept. with new leadership might want to look into this apparently blatant instance of political tampering on the part of someone in Immigration or Homeland Security, or perhaps in the Bush Justice Dept. itself, if the information is held there.

    November 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  16. Sevin

    Whats next John, the kitchen sink?

    November 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  17. chris

    well its sad to see that McCain is not done trying any and every thing jus to win,,,, this is so sad to see an old man do things like this to get intothe office,,,, sad, sad, sad

    November 1, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. Precious Coker

    You betcha, desperados!! even government agents will sell their souls.

    3 days and the wind of change will blow away all these weasels and their politics!!!

    McCain, I got news for you, too little too late.

    November 1, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. Diane Finston

    exactly – what is the source of the information.. Did it come from someone in the Justice Department? Is this a repeat of the leak ala Valerie Plane (sp)... Interesting.. for anyone who is aware of the process, this is not something that is there in the public arena and would only be known inside. Please investigate away, and this time hold them criminally and civilly liable

    November 1, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. Sarah Palin the Alaskan Lobbyist

    Where are Sarah the successionist Alaskan Lobbyist medical records?

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  21. L. Weatherlow

    She probably won't be going to his innaugural ball now. The more important question lies with how she has been able to live in public housing, at Taxpayer expense, for four years after the order came through.
    I am sure the hard-hearted Bush administration would not have supported this, but the citizens of Boston must be feeling pretty flush to have no problem funding the rent for illegal aliens.
    Time to get used to this kind of news...

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  22. Ohio teacher

    Check into who promoted her and donated the money. She is on my Obama friend site but she says she is from Arizona.

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  23. Doc

    See those people will go after anybody in the family. They have nothing on Barack the candidate in question yet they are set on throwing all they can. This is the strangest thing to me that everything they are talking about is nothing but stuff unrelated to the issues. I mean who cares if his aunt is here illegally (outside of Barack) why would anyone but Barack care. Send her back for all i care.

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  24. SW,OHIO

    If this were true, I would blame it on our system, obviously it doesn't work. But again, this could be trash the Republicans are stirring up.

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  25. Dave

    Only an idiot would think the timing of this "story" is random. The Republicans are behind it and someone should be fired or put in jail for violating confidentiality laws regarding someone's immigration status. This is more of the Republican's "the ends justify the means" approach to governing. THEY MUST GO!

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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