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. President Obama

    what's that bumper sticker?? Minds are like parachutes,, they only function when opened. C'mon fear hoarders, you can do it! Move on and let go of the past 8 years.. You'll find out pretty soon, why it is fate that Barack Obama is our next president. Cling to your cynicism and ultimately you lose. Choose the winning team: Hope over Fear..
    Barack Obama= 100% Love, Focus, Green Energy, Foreign Peace Treaties signed.... envision WORLD PEACE.. at least TRY for it! I voted early and I'm not letting up for one day, one minute, one second. XO

    November 1, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Sarge

    Nobama;I was born in the Coast Province Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya. I am not a US citizen.

    November 1, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. Critical Thinking

    Georgygal: Gimme a break. I don't know everything about my family members and we are not estranged. Perhaps she didn't tell him because she didn't want to get him involved and them be guilty for covering up her secret. Ever thought about that? Of course not – hatred doesn't allow folk to see the other side or use logic?

    November 1, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Barbara the PTA "Mawm"

    Does this really change who Barack Obama is? No.

    Does Palin's pregnant daughter say something about Palin? Absolutely.

    November 1, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. Moose & Wolf.

    PLEASE, Sarah, don't return to Alaska when you and your old friend McCain loose the election., we don't miss you.

    It's time for a change and only Obama/Biden will bring this about.

    November 1, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Brian

    What a CROCK OF S**T!

    OBAMA SAYS HE'S GOING TO TAKE UP IMMIGRATION REFORM?

    What a CROCK OF S**T!

    WHO ELSE OR SHOULD I SAY HOW MANY MORE "RELATIVES"

    DOES HE HAVE KICKING AROUND?

    OBAMA IS THE DIRTIEST POLITICIAN CHICAGO'S EVER PRODUCED

    November 1, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Jeff

    More Republican propaganda...

    For people that believe that Bush was a good President, they will believe this.

    Lies, lies, everywhere are lies...

    November 1, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. James

    Even more suspicious is why main street media has not investigated this man the way they have done Hillary and McCain and others. I expect and want them all to have major egg on their face Tuesday. They deserve it so they can reevaluate themselves and get back to real and fair reporting.

    November 1, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. PG

    Heck I don't even know the legal status of all my relatives nor do I care. I care about not having enough money to pay my mortgage, my bills, my health insurance, etc., etc.

    November 1, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. Shola

    What has a distant aunt has to do with Obama?. As an African myself it is amazing to see Barack Obama who is half white is seen by right wing people as if he just came from a different planet.

    Do we have information on all what McCain relatives are up to...

    This story has nothing to do with Obama, let it die...

    November 1, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. James

    And IS OBAMA the illegal here?? NOPE.

    McCain and Palin are nothing more than lying filth! Three more days!

    Hey Sarah, lets see your medical records....will it show you have had ONLY 4 births and not 5 like your LEADING us to belive?!?!?

    Lets look at the birth certifict of here baby....whos the REAL mom on it??? Could it be here DAUGHTER! Boy they have kept that hidden from us!

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. Snickers

    Helloooo – is anyone surprised that something like this comes out
    72 hours before election day?? John and Sara have been dishing
    nothing but dirt throughout this campaign. No platform to call their
    own so smear, smear, smear!! Disgusting!! Furthermore, this has
    been a 3 ring circus all along – 1st Sara The Clown, now Joe The Plumber. If it wasn't so pathetic it would be humorous.

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Sarge

    B. Hussein nobama, no record,no birth cert, no nothing. Show us your birth certificate. You probably will not because you were born in Kenya.

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. Shawn

    If you want to teach Senator Obama's policy to your kids just read them the story Robin Hood!! Before you do think how you are going to tell them why this was not legal for robin hood though!!

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. for obama nj-dp

    sure it is suspicious, and you know who it is from, the ones that are being quiet and saying it is a family matter, but they are the changing the minds of the american people, and the not turning our attention from the economy and this election....it won't work this time, not the same old politics, it will not work, we have too much to lose......obama will win- so your october/november surprise did not and will not work, so take that to the bank

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. viny

    yeah it is suspicious, but just as suspicious as the one linking incest between Briston Palin and Todd Palin and the Obama Campaign, nothing more

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  17. Independent

    The London Times broke this story.

    Maybe if the American press had been doing their jobs we would have heard about this sooner.

    I'm not happy with my choices in this election. There are just too many " leaks" about Obama being swept under the rug for my liking.

    November 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  18. Tennessee is blue

    Pull all of the dirty tricks you want. I already voted for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. Charlie Bradley

    If I had any respect for McCain, which I did only as a war hero, I just lost it all over this stunt.

    I cannot wait until the PEOPLE OF AMERICA speak and show McCain that we ain't buying what he and the biotch from Wasilla are selling

    November 1, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  20. Keith, Ohio

    Here comes the bathroom sink, the garage and the entire house over the next 48 hours from the GOP.

    November 1, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  21. joe, nashville

    I.C.E is in on this.....with all the imigrants the government purposely looked into obama's connection to make a political point.....I BET YOU MY HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUSH IS BEHIND THIS AND SO IS DICK CHENEY.......THEY LEAKED THIS INFO 72 HOURS BEFORE ELECTION SO IT CAN CATCH FIRE, BUT I DON'T THINK IT WILL SO BE PREPARED ON MONDAY FOR SOMETHING MORE PERSONAL TO COME OUT AND MAKE HEAD WAYS....JOHN MCSHAME,MCRAGE HIS SWINGING BELOW THE HEAD.....I'M STARTING TO QUESTION IS POW RECORDS NOW AND THE INFO HE GAVE TO THE VIETS ABOUT MILITARY OPERATIONS THAT LEAD TO COUNTLESS PLANES GETTING SHOT DOWN AROUD WHERE HE WAS CAPTURED

    JOHN MCCAIN=AMERICAN SELL OUT
    SARAH PALIIN="fill in the blanks"

    November 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  22. mmhmm

    That's right sheep – blame the messenger. Teflon Barry for prez -

    November 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  23. Earl

    GOP taking the low road....again, trying to win with fear and smear.

    November 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  24. James

    Even more is why main street media has not investigated this man the way they have done Hillary and McCain and others. I expect and want them all to have major egg on their face Tuesday. They deserve it so they can reevaluate themselves and get back to real and fair reporting.

    November 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  25. carol

    Of course it's suspicious....I don't believe for one minute that Bush and McCain had no knowledge of this coming out at this time in the race......we are NOT STUPID!!!!!!
    We are back to....lets get anything we can....anything...anything, will do that will distract from how McCain is doing, does this not prove what a really sad person McCain is.....where is his pride and dignity...all gone folks, all gone!!!
    What a relief it will be to see the back of McCain and Palin, such low
    gutter trash politicians.....this country can do and deserves much better than that.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    November 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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