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. chad in avery, ca.

    hey mufando!
    thank god your not eligable.
    go back to school.
    hitler and stalin were from different countries.
    idiot!

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. Obama should be investigated

    It looks like Obama was hiding someone illegally in the United States. As far as I know if who knows there is an illegal immigrant in the US but didn't report the local enforcement, he/she has committed a crime.

    I think Obama should be investigated for this issue.

    November 1, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. Frem

    To Ohio teacher – who said she contributed to her nephew on his website? She obviously made the contributions privately or LIED about being a citizen. DUH!!! Another thought, she probably doesn't own a computer – BECAUSE SHE'S POOR AND LIVES IN PUBLIC FUNDED HOUSING!!! AT OUR EXPENSE!!! DUH!! and double DUH!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Evan Brooks

    Discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping occurs quite often against immigrants. There are millions of people in the USA who have attempted to meet the requirements imposed by USCIS, but the laws are so unclear and are not enforced. Who's to blame? Certainly not Obama!

    November 1, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. Imadnax

    What if she is Legal to stay in USA ...WOW that become a Big story then.
    Coz I still dont get for 4 years All goverment depts allowed her to stay ...is not like she went on the run etc etc.

    November 1, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. cm

    McCain/Palin needs Hispanic vote in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania watch out Republicans the exploitation of this news for Political purposes can back fire on you guys big time on November 4th.
    The perception of this news is: Here we go again the Anti-Immigrant Party is waking up and showing what they really think about all immigrants.
    I don’t think this will go well remember what happens with the Republican Party in California after the prop 187 campaign, now democrats are the majority and Hispanics are going with them in huge numbers. I agree law of the land needs to be respect but the exploitation of this sad situation with Obama aunt is inhumane.
    Please CNN post this.

    November 1, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Jason in SDY

    Obama barely knows this side of the family. He knew his dad for 1 month. I am Italian. I've probably got relatives who are illegal aliens I don't even know about.

    November 1, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. Penny

    Well, while we wait for the details on this story, maybe the Navy will release the records they have been asked for regarding the 1964 accident that John McCain was in where someone died......sounds like a simple thing......accident, tragic....then why all the secrets?

    November 1, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  9. voter

    Obama does not have a relationship with his father side of the family. This is not news. The media is already saying that the leak is suspicious and probably was released either by the republicans.

    November 1, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. lisa

    I am so sick and tired of the McCain/Palin camp always trying to come up with some kind on scandle to win this election instead of trying to win it by there veiws on the economy and policies and not smearing! If i was unsure of who i was voteing for what would i have to go on except who Oboma knows, worked, or in his family that they feel is not American enough! I trying to vote a person who is going to help me survive.I want to know policies not he said she said like we are 5 yrs. old on a playground. This is not a game!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. Paul

    The Bush White House has pulled out all the stops this election, whether it was leaking information about supposed voter fraud investigations, attempting to suppress the vote in swing states, and now this. Fortunately the people's voice will be heard this November, and we will send the Republicans packing.

    November 1, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  12. AUH2O

    I am a Christian and a Republican, but I do not subscribe to the belief of the Fundamentalist Right that ours is a Christian nation. The United States was not created to serve the agenda of any one religion, but rather is tasked with serving the needs of all of us. Unfortunately, the worldview of the Religious Right is premised on Good fighting an unending battle against Evil. Folks, when the sun rises on Wednesday, and Barack Obama emerges victorious, the world is NOT going to end. Good will NOT have succumbed to Evil. Frankly, I cannot imagine how things cannot become any worse than they are now, and I blame the fear mongers for scaring many of our citizens into thinking that Satan will be walking the earth if Obama is elected. I'm sorry, but Fox News does NOT provide a fair and balanced view of the world!

    November 1, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Alvin

    Sarah Palin prank call from Sarkozy : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HyB7e_aUq0

    That is real News

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Independent white female patriotic voter

    so what!!! For God's sake, who cares. Mccain wanted to bring one more thing to throw at Obama, well, he hired illegal cleaning ladies, does that count? Paleeeeeeez, come on, who is going to help us with the economy? we care less if there is an illegal aunt, she is one of millions in our country that is illegal. Who can blame her if she didn;t want to go back after being turned away. Mccain was paying a cleaning lady with the knowledge that she was illegal, did he deduct taxes for her? Give me a break! stop discussing this story, it is a waste of time.

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. KG

    The timing is suspicious? The Obama camp is just upset that while they knew about this they thought no one would find out.

    Even worse if they didn't know about it. If they didn't know what does that tell you about Obama's capabilties and of those who he trusts.

    What else don't they want us to find out. Obama's history and background appears to have more holes then Swiss cheese.

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. kickdabumsout

    dp, get back on your meds! Your schizophrenia is showing.

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. Let_Us_Think

    Everything about Barack Obama is suspicious, his past history, birth certificate, cittizenship, upbringing, belief, haff-borthers and sisters, ties to radical extermists leftist terrorists, ACORN, qualifcation, experiences, job-resume, flip-flopping, keeping changing his mind over the yeeas, his philosophy in the tradition and family values of our founding-fathers such as George Washington and Abraha, Lincon, and recently Ronald Reagan. Can we trust him, Joe Biden or Michelle Obama, flollowing the footsteps of Hillary Clinton, as our future leader or Commander-in-Chief in a dangerous world?

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  18. joebloe

    To Mufando:
    So you think that most Americans have been duped, are voting for Obama since they are afraid of black people, and that Hitler, who was leader of Germany took over from Stalin, leader of Soviet Union??????

    If you are going to play on people's fears, at least get some things straight!!!!

    For one I find it hard to believe 100 million people coould have faith in Obama if there was actually anything out there like you insinuate.

    2: Why would people vote for a candidate they were afraid of?

    3: Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union before &&& after Hitler was leader of Nazi Germany. So I don't understand what the heck you are talking about!

    4: If you got to a fork in the road would you go down the road that says the bridge is out (McCain) or would you go down the other road?

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. Griff

    Nataka-Nini CNN? Wapee Toto's CNN? Belgian Gongo 1958/59.. What has changed CNN??

    November 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. paul

    A few things wrong with this story and Obama's side of it.

    Suspicious? Obama has been very good at keeping things under wraps in regards to his full story while calling out McCain on everything from his owned properties to Palin's own story. The fact that it has come out is simply the fact that someone on his team didn't do their job.

    Donations by an illegal? Hmmm, I wonder how many people have made donations MULTIPLE times to his campaign because of his "easy way of getting around the system" vetting system? We are not all stupid, Mr Obama. You all knew what you were doing here right after you rejected Public financing.

    Family? This is the biggest joke. he writes sweet words about his aunt and uncle but leaves them to live in squalor while he lives in a million dollar mansion? Isn't that funny, Mr. "spread the wealth" as long as it is someone else's money. How can you not know that an aunt who in your memoir you state was an amazing force (paraphrased) was in this country illegally and WHY did you not try to help her both monetarily or even legally with this situation as a sponsor to stay in this country?

    Mr. Obama you may MAY win Tuesday, but I think you will be hit even harder after the election with major revelations that will rock your presidency harder than Clinton's.

    Good luck after Tuesday.

    November 1, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. Johnny

    Just another Republican Scare Tactic. They love making low blows.

    November 1, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. mama stacy

    You betcha' the timing is suspicious.

    The GOP is simply throwing as much "stuff" at the fan as they can because they certainly can't talk about the issues, or the fact the McCain's policies and agenda is just like Bush's. Bush/McCain = four years of McSame. They don't want to remind you of that.

    Remember this, though: these are the typical Rovian tactics used to hoodwink voters into electing Bush for two terms. It's the last minute surprise tactic. Look where that got us in the past: into the toilet.

    btw – this story is about Obama's HALF-aunt, from his estranged father's side of the family. Obama's father abandoned him when Barack was a toddler. Obama was raised by his mother's family of Kansas natives. Obama hardly knows this woman, and hardly knew his own father. This is a non-story and has nothing to do with the issues, or how Obama will run this great nation (extremely well).

    McCain wants to distract you from the fact that voting for him is like voting for another four years of Bush. Heck, Cheney endorsed him today!

    Don't fall for the Rovian smear tactics. Vote for the change we need.

    Obama/Biden 08!

    November 1, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. Sue

    I voted early in a state that has a huge number of illegals – Obama is still my pick.

    November 1, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. bill

    Who cares?

    November 1, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  25. Phillip Bunn

    Elmer Fudd and Olive Oil will stoop to any level to win this contest. I guess voodoo might be next. Watch out if Sarah Palin makes a suprise visit to Haiti to pick up an Obama doll and a set of pins.

    November 1, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
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