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. Carol

    A relative that Barack barely knows, and somehow this means something about Barack?

    This has nothing to do about who Barack is, those making a big deal out of it are grasping at straws.

    CNN, you really have taken on a codependent attitude with the McCain campaign. What they whine and complain and you run to the rescue.

    Stop playing victim, it's nauseating. Play fair and talk about Sadam Husseins lobbyist giving tens of thousands of dollars to the GOP.

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. johnrj08

    Our substandard educational system is in full play during this election. If you truly believe that mankind walked alongside living dinosaurs, then vote for McCain/Palin. You'll get the leadership you deserve.

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  3. Ecor

    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 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. Byron

    These issues are frequently under appeal for years by the Board of Immigration Appeals

    November 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. Jon S

    Not only "suspicious", but probably worth an investigation, as I bet a Bush administration immigration official leaked this info to the press.

    And if she is still here, it is because Bush's immigration officials have done nothing about it – until now, bringing it up.

    More partisan attack politics, aided by the Bush administration, and probably in violation of federal law, to boot.

    November 1, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. Unreal

    This goes to show just exactly how dirty the republican party is and will always be. They went so far to pull Obama's family tree to try and find anything they can to discredit this man. I can not wait until the race is over ........

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. Buckeye

    How many of his family and friends has Obama thrown under the bus recently? There was this crook Rezko, then this radical Ayers, then his pastor of 20 years and now his aunt. If he is willing to do this to his intimate others, what happens to the rest of us when it is politically expedient to throw us under the bus, or into prison?

    November 1, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. K Faulkner

    Mufando (6:52 pm), friend, check your history. Hitler did not replace Stalin, and, while you're checking, find out which of them killed the most people.

    November 1, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. Elle

    Obama is lying. He knew, of course he knew. That is his "aunti".

    November 1, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. Kick Obama's Aunt Out--

    She's not only an illegal immigrant but she's living off my tax money in Public Housing in Boston. Another welfare case-the kind of people Obama wants us to share our wealth with? Why should I pay for her housing?????

    November 1, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Donal

    Another non-issue that CNN will treat as if it is worthy of the news. Let's see some of that stuff that's sticking to McCain or Palin too, editotrs.

    November 1, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. Carol

    Your comment is awaiting moderation, until it disappears.

    A relative that Barack barely knows, and somehow this means something about Barack?

    This has nothing to do about who Barack is, those making a big deal out of it are grasping at straws.

    CNN, you really have taken on a codependent attitude with the McCain campaign. What they whine and complain and you run to the rescue.

    Stop playing victim, it's nauseating. Play fair and talk about Sadam Husseins lobbyist giving tens of thousands of dollars to the GOP.

    November 1, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. Hen from Jacksonville, FL

    Last time I checked Obama's aunt is not runing for office. The fact that this story was relased 3 days before election day does lead me to think that supporters of the statas quo are desperate.

    I don't think so.

    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond. :)

    November 1, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. Ben

    Why is McCain at 72 playing such childish games? Whats gone with the real Republicans..this is not those heroes in the past who Americans voted for. McCain's a let down for all the negatie and childish games.

    November 1, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. Artful

    dp,

    Where the heck you living? Have you missed the last few years?! Shall we recount the all of the failures and where we stand right now? And McCain certainly has to be at the epicenter of this malestrom. He himself stated that he voted with Bush 94 percent of the time! If none of this raises a modicum of concern on your part, you are a hopeless Republican that would rather see the country sink and stink, then have even a sliver of chance of getting out of this calamity!

    November 1, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Jerry

    Of course, Senator NObama and his blind/idiotic followers are going to deflect nay attention by the news media on this newest revelation. Like one of the bloggers before me indicated, there will be a lot more issues coming to light, both during the election and after. Of course, most media, in bed with Senator NObama, will not cover all these issues until after the election is over.

    Stay tuned!

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. jd

    mccain is a racist as a marine station in yuma AZ he voted against MLK day.he has call barack everything in the book as a vet he is a shameful shell of a man,and has sold his soul to seek the power that will evade his his fate is sealed you can lie only so much.oh by the way if he was in the military when he cheated on his first wife he should have been brought up on charges CNN please get the public a date on the the look at THE UCMJ IF TM TIME LINE IS CORRECT HE BROKE THE LAW

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  18. lieNoMore

    Come on this is an aunt his father's side!! A father he saw once or twice in his entire life. What is Obama supposed to do chase down all his distant relatives and check on their status? You know where and what all your aunts are doing right now??

    Any brickheaded moron who believes this is an issue is probably writing "W" in for a third term and believes it is Constitutional...

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. Teddy

    Wow, how is it hat a millionaire like Obama doesn't even help his Auntie. So he wants to raise taxes on us for a new welfare state but he doesn't even help his aunt out. Pretty revealing. Obama is suspiciously deceptive and not what he appears to be on just about everything. Be smart – vote McCain, a real honest guy not this kind of guy like Obama

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Julia, Ohio

    I can't understand how after Bush anyone can vote on another Bush, because believe me, the only diference between George Bush and Sarah Palin is ....lipstick !!!

    Does this nations want's or needs more Bush's ???

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. Eric, the legal immigrant

    What exactly has this got to do with Obama, his campaign and for christ sake this election? Everyone is afraid to say it, but I will. How can a white man or woman who makes under $250,000 and have children or grandchildren who stand to benefit from Obama's educational plan and cares about the environment choose McCain over Obama. If not because of his race, somebody please tell me why else. It will definitely be a sad day in America, if Obama loses this election because of his RACE

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Rod Hale

    Why worry about deporting some poor old 71 year old lady even if she is in US illigally. She certainly has done no one any harm. Who should be deported are Paulson, Bernarke, and the former Federal Reserve chairman. Considering the damage these three did to this country, there is no way in hell they could be citizens of this country. So if we are talking about doing something, let's do something constructive and send these three crooks to Kenya.

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  23. T'SAH from Virginia

    MEDICAL RECORDS ON PA'IN – I bet in her medical records here TUBES were tied after she had "the little girl who does not seem to go to school" – whcih means, the baby is not hers – I truly believe the baby belongs to Bristol and it is one of the GREATEST coverups of all time.

    Get her to produce her medical records!!!!! Why aren't we talking about that. Also, Obama's aunt can go back to Africa and try again to become a legal citizen. At least she "applied"!!! More than you can say for all of the "illegals" here and remain here.

    November 1, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. Mike in Texas

    Like we all know what all of our relatives are doing at all times and we all know about everything in their past. Give me a break. I bet some of these people ripping Obama don't even know what their spouse or kids are doing all the time. So please, give it a rest.

    November 1, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. Kate

    What the heck does Obama's half aunt's citizenry status have to do with anything????? This has gotten completely absurd.

    November 1, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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