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. arthur

    The hand of Cheyney reaches out to elect McBush!

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Jean 2

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    This is very troubling. How secure are all of us, if our files or confidential information can be leaked for any reason. I could understand if this was the result of an investigation.
    I believe in laws and the enforcement of them, but when something like this happens we are all at risk.

    It is larger than any donation to the poor.

    A sick commentary on the democratic process.

    IS THIS COUNTRY FIRST???

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  3. mick the printer

    i don't know why it hasn't been brought up but where would john mccain have been if his granddad and dad wern't admirals in the navy . seems to me he would never be in postion to run for president at least obama got there by his own hard work.

    November 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Paul, Nodak

    Why is it the Republican's fault whenever something negative comes out about Obama? Maybe all these negative things are coming out because he's not who he says he is. Pretty sure I know that my aunt is a US citizen. Let's get at the bigger issue here and his donators. Where has his money come from, here's an aunt who wasn't a US citizen donating to his campaign, how many other non US citizens have donated? Have all of you that spill onto this site to blast Republicans after every article is released donated to Obama? I find it ironic that the vast majority of his money comes from under $200 donations, the exact amount that doesn't have to have a name attached to it.

    November 1, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. Sam

    I just came home after watching the movie W. Well, this looks like a lesson from Carl Rowe!

    For all those Repubs making a big deal about this issue: what happened to Sarah's troopergate issue? She KNOWINGLY did something bad, whereas you are picking on Obama for his aunt's status? Get a life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. arthur

    The hand of Cheyney reaches out to elect McBush.
    –More than Suspicious

    November 1, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Vera /AB. Canada

    CNN you must be looking for ratings talk about McSame spreading manuer or cow sh– whatever you want to call it. Do you Rebecca Sinderbrand who is a CNN Editor have proof on Obama s Aunt.I DID NOT SEE ANY VERIFACATION ON THIS. I think you guys belong in the bottom of the barrel with McCain crew.What I cannot understand why now CNN? The only person who tells the truth that I can see is Jack Cafferty on your station. Go Obama you will win with a land slide and put some of these people on their a- -

    We Love you and your family here in Canada good luck and God Bless .Fr: a 68 yr. old wht. women

    November 1, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Hokie

    Think about it...As an influential senator, Obama could have used his political connections to get his aunt legal status. He did not do that. Does that not show his integrity ????

    Pathetic attempt to smear a winning candidate...

    November 1, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. Thoughtful_Citizen_Voter

    Is it America's destiny, presidents Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and then Michelle Obama, in the tradtional values of our founding-fathers?? Barack Obama does not know when life of a baby begins in its mother's womb, he said he wouldn't want to "punish" his daughters with children. What if his mother decided to abort him, there wouldn't be a Barack Obama today, His "change" is socialism, much like that many Asian and European countries, and it doec not work over other nations, with a big well-fare system, big government-control, big spending, more regulations, and less freedom fo the people. Obama will raises taxes to pay for well-fare and finance his big spending. We need a tested and experienced leader or Commander-inChief in a dangerous world. Barack Obama is cocky, and so is Joe Biden. Can we trust his words, while he has a long record of flip-flops, and is still hiding many documents from us? Who is the real Obama, with ties to the radical extremist leftist terrorists? Is he a smoker, who does not understand the effect of addiction to nicotine, after all this is the twenty-first century information age?? Maybe it is our destiny to have Joe Biden or Michelle Obama as future president, after all.

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. E C

    Even the Republicans, would think this is no coincidence that this came out that time, it came out because the Republicans is desperate as desperate can get, first of all, it is Obama half aunt, his father half sister, second, he being a US Senator, he could have sponser her, or gotton someone else to sponser her, as for the $260.00 dollars that she donated to the Obama campaign, she donate it in increments, as high as $25.00,as low as $5.00, this is a campaign that receive $150 million in one month, and I'm sure if the Republican could prove that if the money would illegal, they would have telling it on theFox networks, what the Republican should be worried about , is why some high ranking Republicans are supporting the Obama campaign, like Colen Powell, but, he's Black, what about Reagan fomer chief of staff. so that must tell some of the idiots in the Republicans party ,those who are using race and terrorist for Obama demise, that the these Republicans supporters, brain is much larger than their.

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. tj

    Obama = coverup = lies

    Vote McCain if you haven't wasted your vote already!

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. PCS / North Carolina

    dp November 1st, 2008 6:56 pm ET

    "WE ALL BE PROBALLY STANDING IN FOOD LINES AND NO MONEY IF OBAMA GETS INTO OFFICE"

    You will be standing in unemployment lines and credit lines if McWar gets elected.

    During the GWB 8yrs, what did the tax cuts to the wealthy do ? It created the biggest financial crisis since the great depression, spiraling down economy, more job losers (750000 in 2008), and more.. Are we stupid enough to think that more tax cuts to the wealthy will create more jobs ? Ken lay (Enron), B ebbs (Worldcom), Dennis K ( Tyco) and a few Hedge fund managers will tell you from jail what they did with the tax cuts.

    THEY laid off employees, cut benefits, restructured and cooked the books to boost the stock prices, so they could get a bonus. Now they are in Jail. CEO's makes 600 times the salary of an employee. They have to work only 3 hrs a year to get a comparable salary of an employee.

    GOP the party of religious fanatics and filthy rich.

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. Indiana for McCain

    Sharon, are you kidding? Are you referring to Bill Ayers? You are a sick, sad individual. You and "California Native" should carpool to Canada and get a place together.

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  14. Don of Wisconsin

    BO didn't know about his Aunt's status? Hey! Believe that and I'll give you a deal on ocean front property in Arizona....

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. Ken in Dallas

    "one would've thought Obama would help out."

    Would that be respectful? Interfering in his aunt's personal business without being asked, as if she were a child? What do you think he ought to do, put her in the home?

    Honestly, some Americans have no concept of dignity.

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  16. chester

    McCain will make a great president and the new STAR Palin will be a great vice president very soon. We all know McCain is the best qualified to be president by a huge margin but it's also funny how VP Palin is more qualified to be president than the fraud obama. Bullsheet obama, the master of DECEIT with solutions to none.

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. Ghost

    This will end up moderated for days or deleted. It is more than suspicious it is down right criminal. The repubs will hurt anyone just to keep hold of their power.

    Remember to get out and vote Nov. 4th and send the repubs packing

    November 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. Richard K

    "Mufando.Mazakani November 1st, 2008 6:52 pm ET

    Personally anyone who can take a person such as Barak Obama serious as a candidate is lost – and I see most of the Americans doing this, is willing to give up the core values and believes of this Country, that founded this Country, why so many of us worked so hard to get here.. to see it thrown away because many young "ill informed" voters, many race fearing people would vote for a "Change" for the sake of change – Remember there was a change from "Stalin" to Hitler, and millions lost their lives, liberty and freedom… Change for the sake of Change = Disaster…. remember that when you vote ! I will when I am eligible for voting next year !
    Muf."

    You need to get educated first. What core values will be lost? You talking about Obama's tax plan that will resemble Ronald Reagan's. So is Ronald Reagan a socialist?

    Or maybe you think one of America's core values and beliefs is that the president must be a rich white old man?

    Stalin to Hitler? Both from different countries. I don't understand.

    You mention ill-informed young voters. So please inform us what you are talking about. Teach us.

    November 1, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  19. Jay

    Actually, the Obama website does not check the validity of the address listed with credit card donations. One does not have to even reside in this country to donate under such an illegal campaign system. Returning the illegal donation demonstrates a lack of internal controls and admission of guilt. The lack of apology indicates something worse. The fact that the man does not know his own family member indicates something far worse.

    November 1, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Lorna

    Obama said they would throw everything at him but the kitchen sink in the last few days – he was right again. Has any considered the fact that this women is now a TARGET to get to Obama. It will only take one SICK individual to target her as they did Obama a couple of weeks ago. Way to go again MEDIA - lets expose her and make her life hell. Where are all you guys for the millions of other illegal aliens in this country???

    November 1, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Robin

    This is about as trivial as knowing Dick Cheney & Obama are cousins.

    November 1, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. Paul

    When Sarah Palin discloses her medical reports, Todd Palin gives an interview about his involvement with the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party, and CNN questions Sen. McCain's brother Joe about why he would swear at a 911 operator, I will give a rat's a– about this 11th hour, unsubstantiated leak from a federal GOP hack.

    Rather than running hours of McCain's and Palin's stump speeches that repeat lies and misrepresentations about Obama's positions on issues that matter, perhaps they could ask Palin's camp about these medical reports. What is she hiding?
    CNN – release this for moderation to demonstrate your lack of bias.

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. D

    McCAIN TRAITOR FOR PRESIDENT

    Go check out YOUTUBE and search "McCain Traitor"...............

    SEE WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN HIDING FROM YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. RGA

    Just like the way the handle that leak of the CIA operative, eh?!

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  25. yaneyra from California

    I DO NOT CARE!!!! I LIKE OBAMA NO MATER WHAT!!

    I VOTED FOR HIM ALMOST TWO WEEKS AGO!!!

    OBAMA O8/12

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
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