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. Kate

    Let me get this straight ... Obama is somehow accountable for his half-aunt, a half sister of a father that abandoned him when after he was born. How many of you really know details about a relative, leave alone one that was from another continent. shame shame to the good old USA!!

    November 1, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. Elle

    It is suspecious of Obama and his campaign to omit the truth of his "aunti" who is living here illegally from his proud speeches of the value he has on his family.

    Its further suspcious of the campaign to point the finger to others to defocus the media and Americans from the truth: Obama knew she was here illegally and tried to limit his knowledge and ties to her because of his running for office.

    THIS IS WRONG: OBAMA IS WRONG!

    November 1, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  3. Lin lin

    HEY FUNNY ; GOOD PIONT – so now can we talk about the economy, education ad health care!! Oh wait Mccain who voted with Bush 90% loves this – what they fail to understand the Obama campaign is not liek the Kerry campaing – they will tackle this irrelevent crap head on!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. Pete

    "I am my brothers keeper!" (except Obamas brother in Kenya)

    "I am my sisters keeper!" (except Obamas aunt in Boston)

    November 1, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. Doyle Huckabay

    George W. Bush has a BROTHER who rode a savings and loan down to the ground. How much did he walk away with? Wake up Southern Democrates and stop voting in these crooked Republicans.

    November 1, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. Nina in Orlando

    Shame on you, John McCain. You have lost whatever dignity you had left in you.

    SHAME!

    November 1, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. L MIAMI, FLORIDA

    HEY MCNASTY AND SKELETON MICHAEL CHERTOFF,

    YOU TWO ARE GOING DOWN !

    3 MORE DAYS !

    3 MORE DAYS !

    3 MORE DAYS !

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !

    BASTA YA !

    SI SE PUDE !

    GO OBAMA / BIDEN

    November 1, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Georgygal

    How come my comments never get on here?

    November 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. John

    Expect for more to come out the next couple of days. A wind of hope is sweeping the nation. Believe. Rev. Wright adds are already hitting the airwaves. The kitchen sink will be coming soon. Power is so hard to give up for Republicans.

    If you have any beliefs system, you would understand that Obama has a purpose. When things are wrong on this earth, men of color are always chosen to bring about major change.

    November 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  10. Deport Obama's Aunt--NOW

    She's an illegal immigrant and worse, she's living off taxpayer money in Public Housing in Boston.

    Kick her out and put up a fence to keep her out.

    November 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. NCGirl03

    Hopefully in the very near future two things will happen:

    1. People will stop using 'lack of knowledge about Obama' as a cover for racism.

    2. The McCain/Palin camp and supporters will stop digging up pointless information

    What exactly are people expecting to others to find out about Barack? Trust me, if there was anything to dig up I am sure the McCain/Palin camp would have dug it up by now. Admit you have nothing but racist thoughts and motives.

    If you don't know anything else you know that Barack didn't have a relationship with his father and consequently his fathers family. I am sure you have a long lost relative that is either here illegally or came illegally. Remember School House Rock "The great American melting pot".

    November 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. New Day

    "YOU WILL ALL BE SURPRISED WHAT WILL BE COMING OUT IN THE FUTURE. WE DO NOT KNOW THE 1/2 OF WHAT OBAMA STANDS FOR.."

    We are living through something historic, guys. You can tell by the fear and rhetoric of those that oppose it. This is no different than all of the other barriers that were broken in the past (our revolution, end of slavery, women's rights movement, civil rights movement, first catholic president, etc., etc.)

    November 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. Eugene

    Is Obama more responsible for his aunt than John McCain is for his brother cussing out a 911 switchboard operator because he was stuck in traffic? Everyone has their family skeletons, some closer to them than others.

    November 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. keesa

    mccain cheated on his wife fair game,palin doesnt want to release her medical records fair game ,john mccain was born in panama fair game. when mccain was married in so claim to love his wife carol did carol no deep down that her husband was a cheater no, in john mccain wants to talk about he been tested but all his test fail

    air plane crash test fail
    cheated on carol test fail
    voted with bush 90% time test fail
    yes mccain you been tested but you fail

    November 1, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  15. Get real people

    John: "I guess most of the illegals do work and contribute to the national cake of the US of A like every other legal citizen."

    ???????????

    What planet did you just arrive from? Last time I checked one of the big issues about illegals was the fact they AREN'T contributing to the US of A but rather are more of a burden. They show up at emergency rooms rather than going to a doctor running up hospital costs. They don't pay taxes, they overcrowd homes ignoring occupancy limits and they become a huge law enforcement issue.

    Obama is said to be a smart man so I can't believe he didn't know his aunt was in the US illegally. Does he not talk to his own family?

    His campain says they are returning the money she donated; the bigger question is how much more of his record donations came from people who are not US citizens!?

    Obama is simply a politician. He will tell you what ever you want to hear to get elected, period. I am going to laugh my $%^ off if he gets elected and crap doesn't change a bit.

    November 1, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. Eric, Portland

    "Amazing" how something like this gets "discovered" two days before the election. What a ridiculously hollow ploy by the Republicans.

    November 1, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  17. Jenna from Los Angeles

    I have waited awhile to express my views. What in the world happened to McCain/Palin? It's like they sold their souls to the devil! What happened to the honorable man I'd heard McCain to be? He will look back on this election, when he loses and find that the respect he had has been laid by the wayside. As a Veteran I am ashamed and embarrased for him. As an American I apologize to the world. Please do not think that we are all like this. Please vote! Obama/Biden

    November 1, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    I've been trying to get CNN to post this for days - what's up with censoring it? IF this gets posted, check it out for some serious info on McCain that's not getting any press:

    http://www.McCainBetraysPOWs.com

    November 1, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. Pennsylvania Hopeful

    I'm so over these tactics. Nov 4th HURRAY UP!!!

    Obama/Biden 2008/2012

    Let's go Dems to the polls

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Redstate

    Are you people idiots!! How does McCain have anything to do with Obama's "Auntie" living here illegally. Get a clue and get yourselves off the kool-aid.

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  21. liwop

    Boy you Banana supporters can come up with some weird stuff whenever anything come to light about the boy. One of you brilliant banana supporters now claims there or 50 million illegals in this country (And ACORN more than likely has them all registered to vote for the boy)

    I'm surprise AP let the story get out before next Wednesday, Tons of info will shock you folks next week whether the boy wonder wins or not.

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  22. Glen

    Leaked?

    How can the truth be leaked?

    Its the truth, and people are blaming McCain, you people are so confused on reality.

    Hopefully you will see straight on Tuesday, and vote for the one who can be trusted.

    McCain all the way!!

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. Proud To Be American

    I've had it!!!

    I never thought I'd ever hear myself say this. BUT. I'm going to go ahead and vote for the smart black guy to be president of the US of A!

    God bless America!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. McCain=the draft

    Why are McCain's military records sealed???????????

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. vote! OBAMA-BIDEN NOV.4th

    I GUESS THE NEXT THING WE'LL SEE FROM MCCAIN AND PALIN WILL BE THE MOB, THEY ARE SO DANGEROUS FOR AMERICA, EVERYONE VOTE OBAMA-BIDEN, DO IT FOR YOUR CHILDREN, DO IT FOR YOUR COUNTRY.

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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