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. Shane

    Just when you think the McCain/Palin campaign can't get any lower, they exceed your expectations once again.

    This should be a clear signal to the country that they have absolutely no ideas at all about how to fix the problems that America faces. They want power for the sake of power, not to help the people. They have no policies to speak of, only lies, smears and scurrilous slanders. Their campaign hasn't offered America hope and inspiration, only fear and intimidation.

    The Republican Party needs to completely rethink its reason for being. Luckily for them, they will have ample time (probably eight years, possibly more) to do so after Nov. 4. Hopefully, after the neocon nutjobs, far-right Christian theocracy proponents, corporate bagmen, and backroom sleaze merchants have been purged from the party, the remainder will look back at the McCain campaign's shameless and despicable strategies during this election cycle as an example of how NOT to run for President.

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  2. frank

    I think this is very important allegation if Barack's aunt has been living in this country illegally and she has broken the law without his nephew Barack has had any knoweldge of her aunt being here illegally ,I think this is a matter of judgment and honesty that Mr Obama seems to me has been lagging in this presidential campaign and being dishonest to american people as far as telling the truth and I think he should be public ly revealing all his past suspicious activities in order for the public to make a final decision that who should be the right commandor and chief of the united states.

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. Theresa in Minneapolis

    So then this is the kitchen sink, right? What the F ever...

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. Paul Wall in Dallas

    Mufando.Mazakani-it is so ironic you mention Hitler and Stalin in the same breath as Barack Obama. have you been to your candidates' "rallies". very reminisent of Germany in the 1930s: "go home", "kill him". these are daily chants on the Palin/McCain Hate Circus. Barack Obama is the polar opposite of Hitler, Stalin.

    just keep their hate out of my state.

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. chester

    Just maybe Obamas aunt sold out the rich tightwade Obama for not helping family. He should be ashamed of himself for leaving her in poverty in Boston along with his brother in Kenya earning 1.00 a month. Obama will spread the wealth when it's the American taxpayer footing the bill but will not spread his own. Amazing !!! Maybe Acorn can help out when they are done trying to steal the election.

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Lorna

    In response to "Funny" - I sure wish I was one of your shirt tail relatives. You think Obama should have helped her out? DUH! If I helped out every one of the needy 200 or so relatives I have, I wouldn't have a dime! You surely have the McCain attitude.

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  7. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    *********CNN ONE MORE POST PLEASE! THANKS************

    Since ALL of you Republicans want the TRUTH out......how about we all LOOK INTO MCCAIN'S DIVORCE?

    YOU KNOW, HOW HE CHEATED with CINDY????? LET'S GET ALL THAT TRASH OUT FOR US ALL TO KNOW!

    LET'S LOOK INTO MCCAIN'S KEATING 5 CONNECTION

    HOW ABOUT GORDON LIDDY?

    WHAT ABOUT TODD PALIN'S MEMBERSHIP IN THE ALASKA INDEPENDENT PARTY A SECESSIONIST GROUP?

    WE COULD DIG AND DIG AT ALL OF MCCAIN'S DRUNKEN BRAWLS, INSINUATE THAT HE KILLED SOMEONE IN 1964 WHILE DRIVING........... WE COULD ALL GET ........REAL.......UGLY..........AND HATEFUL!

    BUT NO.............SEN. OBAMA.........AND THE DEMOCRATS WONT GET IN THE .............GUTTER WITH THE REPUBLICANS!

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. Paul, MO

    Can you say DESPERATE!!

    They clinging to the edge of the cliff.. and it's so obvious!! Quiet sad really.. McCain will go out with a huge loss of respect!

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  9. ME

    Funny, CNN, how you moderate OUT ANY PRO McCAIN COMMENTS.
    ALL BIAS ALL BULLsh**
    .•:*¨¨*:•.JOE.•:*¨¨*:•.THE.•:*¨¨*:•.PLUMBER.•:*¨¨*:•.IS.•:*¨¨*:•.AMERICAS.•:*¨¨*:•.
    ………….....•:*¨¨*:•.MODERN.•:*¨¨*:•.DAY•:*¨¨*:•.SUPER.•:*¨¨*:•.HERO.•:*¨¨*:•…
    …………………•:*¨¨*:•.VOTE.•:*¨¨*:•.FOR: .•:*¨¨*:•.TRUTH.•:*¨¨*:•......
    …………………•:*¨¨*:•.MCCAIN .•:*¨¨*:•.PALIN: .•:*¨¨*:•………………
    ……………..................•:*¨¨*:•.PEACE .•:*¨¨*:•.......................

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Danny

    ABSENTEE FRAUD ALERT!

    In as much as this Absentee ballot thing is good to allow citizens have alternative to cast their vote.....we need to BEWARE OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS and CHECK THEM WELL. The Republicans are turning in absentee twice a smuch as democrats.This is ongoing in Florida.

    DO NOT LET THEM STEAL ANOTHER ELECTION BY SENDING IN MAILED BALLOTS OF DEAD PEOPLE AND UNDERAGED PEOPLE AND PEOPLE WHO CANNOT MAKE A CHOICE FOR THEMSELVES, OR THEIR KIDS WHO ARE OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE , BUT ARE 100s OF MILES AWAY IN COLLEGE OR WORK. THAT's FRAUD!!!!!!!!

    ELECTORAL OFFICERS PLS BE VIGILANT WITH ABSENTEE/MAILED BALLOTS......! TUCKER BOUNDS.......ONE OF McSAME'S SPOKESMEN IS BOASTING ABOUT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    OBAMA 08'

    November 1, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  11. exdem

    Just because you have BUSH it doesn't mean you have to vote for Obama the socialist. In case you don't know what socialism is try to look it up. You will be amazed how the definition matches Obama's vision!!!

    VIVA The SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF AMERICA !!!

    November 1, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. Marc

    To Funny:
    The information shouldn't have been disclosed, period.
    Someone put his political interest above his/her legal obligance to keep the information secret, period.
    And it's not the first that it happens, though I admit that in the first time (outing a CIA operative), was way more ridiculous and disasterous for the Bush government than now, after all in the first case only a few selected people knew VP's real job, but now the number of people that might knew about Obama's aunt is far more bigger and the issue is really smaller than in the first case.
    Why? Because it's something that only matters to Obama's aunt and the IRS/INS (forgot their acronym).
    'Oh, but OBAMA has an aunt that is an illegal alien in the USA...' Yeah, so? What does it change his very clear stances in economy, energy, military and such?
    'But Obama's aunt is an illegal immigrant...'
    You Republicansd are really grasping at straws...

    November 1, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  13. vote

    didnt obama vote to have the wall buitlt at the border?

    November 1, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  14. Steve

    Get real these guys are vetted all the way down to what type of underwear.

    Of course they knew.

    November 1, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Ken in Dallas

    DP:

    The past is past. Change is upon us, whether we like it or not.

    This is one of those times in history when we embrace change or we get swept under the wave. Clinging to the past is just another way of choosing to be swept away.

    McCain is the candidate of the past, of clinging to the status quo, but the status quo has lost all its power. Electing McCain is swimming in a rip current.

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  16. Ex-Republican

    What else could Bush do to help McCain? Bush's endorsement did not help, and people have caught on to the politicized "Terror Alerts".

    Obama's aunt is not running for president, Obama is. This is an attempt at distraction. The GOP is hoping we will forget how badly they've been running the country.

    We won't forget at the polls, McCain.

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. jeannettelj

    John McCain will do anything and say anything to get elected. He has run the sleaziest campaign ever and will not stop attacking Obama. Quite frankly, we are tired of the lies and the slanderous remarks on a daily basis. He is a desperate and angry old man and it really shows. I'm sure that this is just another story planted by the Mccain campaign to try and make us doubt Obama. It is the old FEAR factor at work just like it is with everything Bush says and does. Why would we want another president like that?

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  18. your family

    Wow, I hope I never run for office because I have a few family members that make this lady look like Mother therasa (she isnt a citizen either).

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. DFinFL

    Wow. Given the uproar from the GOP wackos you'd think Aunti Zeituni had been convicted of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy, served 4+ years in Federal prison for stealing $3+ billion dollars from hard-working Americans and had an American Senator intervene on her behalf with Federal law enforcement agencies.

    ..

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. MC

    The timing is interesting...BUT, if the media had actually scrutinized Obama months ago we would already know all the secrets in his closet.

    McCain/Palin '08

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  21. JimS.

    The more of these sorry tricks they pull at the last minute, the more pathetic they look. Sorry, "My Friends", you're not convincing anyone with this kind of crap. Probably just the opposite.

    November 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  22. David

    He thinks the leak is suspicious. Obama is suspicious. Obama did not know this about his aunt but he wants to rule the world. I guess he does not know about all the Mexicians jumping the fence either.

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Everything about Barack Obama is suspicious, his past history, birh-certificate, citizenship, upbringing, belief, hidden records, qualification, experience, job-resume, ties with radical extremist leftist, ACORN, flip-flopping, keepking changing his mind, and his socialist philosophy, in the tradition and family values of our founding-fathers such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Can we trust him, as our leader or Commander-in-Chief in a dangerous world?? Has he been tested to deal with international crises in the next 6 months, or can we afford an on-the-job-training president? Does he say anything (or promises anything), to get elected??? Aemrican people are smarter than that.

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  24. RealSmart

    This is McCain's Oct. surprise. They would have like to use Rev. Wright but they are afraid that will eventually lead to the media looking into Palin's Witchdoctor. Yikes!!!!

    The entire McCain campaign has been desperate and this is just another pitiful desperate ineffective dirty tactic. I am pleased that as of next week that I won't have to see Grumpy (McCain) and Dopey (Palin- how about that prank they pulled on her today?) on my tv set.

    Go Obama. Yes we can...and will.

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  25. davidbcoe

    Of course this was a setup. Records of this sort are not supposed to be made public at all. But Bush-McCain are all about dirty tricks and always have been. And I love the way right wing bloggers are saying that Obama "threw his aunt under the bus" by saying that if she was here illegally she'd have to follow the laws of the land and leave. Imagine if he had said he thought she should be allowed to stay! They'd be screaming about special treatment for his family members and how he was soft on illegal immigration. These people will do anything to win.

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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