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. grams09

    Now that Obama is aware of his aunt's living condition, I hope he will take care of her. The money he has to return to her should help out with the rent next month. I wish her well.

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  2. Glen

    Do you also think Obama is going to pay more on taxes, to help us little people?

    Don't think so, I'm sure he will find some loophole to crawl through.

    But you people must vote for him, since Oprah told you too.

    McCain all the way!!

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  3. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    Voter surpression, Hoaxy election schduling in Virgina, Slimy sleazy campaign this is more like the GOP 's handy work

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. Reasonable Observer

    What a joke this Axelrod guy is. Does he not remember the "suspicious" leaking of ugly sealed divorce details related to Obama opponents in previous races?

    Or, is it not "suspicious" that press is hounding Palin about medical records when Obama's are still yet to be seen?

    Let's see – Obama is not aware of his "dear" aunt's situation and Tony Rezko and Rev. Wright are "not the guy I knew." He knows "little" about his personal friends and family. If that is true, Obama has worst skills of observation and judgement I have ever seen. Just the type of person we should elect president, right??

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. oldewok

    T%his story came via AP...not McCains crew.

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Josh

    How does this affect the race? Latest in the series of meaningless issues to distract and confuse the voters. Probably a gift from those in power. The country is heading for a crash landing and we are arguing that the coffee is cold!

    McCain as well as the GOP is degenerating to the intellectual level of Ms. Palin!

    Where are the angels when we need them?

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. Nola

    Let's address Cindy McCain ignoring her half-sister – Let's address McCain's ignoring his African America family. Who cares about Obama half-aunt – how does the subject of them ignoring their family/half family address the number of issues that we the people of this country have to deal with? Please someone tell me?

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. linda from South Dakota

    umm sounds like a mcbush thing,, so dirty,, like i said, he will do anything to get votes

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. Get real people

    SM: "I will vote for the Obama/ Biden ticket …..they have shown immense leadership."

    Pardon me but what the heck has NoBama lead???? NOTHING! He is an empty suit at this point that has only promised but has never delivered anything.

    Give me a break, you dems are just being hoodwinked.

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. Joyce in Florida

    McCain and Palin, both of you are so pathetic. Your time has been over for weeks now and you are showing desperation big time. Too late since this Hillary Clinton supporter already voted for Obama/Biden. Why don't both of you just concede already. You are not winning. Oh, and Palin, you have your own problems you are going to deal with and I will be surprised if you can even hold on to your governorship. Bye Bye!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. LF Oneto

    McCain and the republicans have no shame. It seems that everything goes no matter how petty it may be. JM, you will go down in history as a sorry excuse for a man -like someone said before, POW or not.
    Virginia

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

    I don't think anything will stop Obama from being elected President. There is so much we don't know about this man and what he stands for that it is frightening. The press has helped in every way possible to convince the American public that he is "THE ONE" and they have tried to destroy anyone who dares to run against him. I'm sure that after he is elected, he and his fanatical supporters will work hard to destroy any TV, radio station, newspaper or magazine that is critical of his administration. It's happening already.

    November 1, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Glenn in California

    What else would you expect from the sleaziest campaign in the history of our country? They're a bunch of shameful low lifes.

    McCain promised to "take the high road" in this campaign. You'd think he wouldn't resort to what he was subjected to in 2000, but then again, you'd be wrong. McCain sold his soul and abandoned his morals and values to win this election. It's pathetic and sad. R.I.P.

    November 1, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. Vic NY

    Suspicious? What??
    Nothing suspicious about bringing out the truth.
    Why are they waiting so long to bring out Obama's mistress??

    November 1, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. enoch needles

    caribou barbie and songbird johnny are desperate and will try anything. 3 more days and we'll see the last of them.

    November 1, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Obama unaware of his aunt's immigration status. Obama unaware of Wright's hateful sermons. Obama unaware of Ayer's crimes. Obama unaware the guy he was using for help in his real estate deal was under indictment. Do we want a POTUS who is so unaware of what's going on around him?

    November 1, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  17. keesa

    when joohn mccain cheated on carol did she knew her husband was a cheater no, so tell me i guess obama supose to no everything what somebody else does i can see if it was him but a aunt he see once a yr. and the lady probly didnt wanna move out the project. yall stupid as stupid can get find something on obama instead accuseing him of what somebody else does then i will vote for you mccain but accusing the man for other people down falls not gonna work

    November 1, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. David Deacon

    Once the paragon of ethics and independent thinking, McCain has taken Nixon's dirty tricks playbook. He has no credibility and no integrity. Shameful end to an otherwise impressive career. Tragic

    November 1, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. aware

    The whole Obama story is suspicious from A to Z!

    According to Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, "Our identities and our developing characters are formed in personal relationship. We are biological, quite; psychological, true; political, yes; we are economic, certainly. But the foundation of all of this is personal."

    In other words it matters who we have been in relationship with and especially for twenty years!

    Our character and identity are the product of of our relationships! :(

    So, do you think Obama is fit to be POTUS?

    This disillusioned democrat and Hillary supporter voted for McCain/Palin 08!

    They are the only authentic reformers in this election! :)

    November 1, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Jody Monroe

    Why is Obama responsible for his aunt and her action? I'm not responsible for anything my aunts do.... Are you?

    November 1, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. a nurse

    i don't respect Mc ain because he left his wife after she was so faithful to him when he was in the service. He left when she was crippled from a car accident and had cancer. He is no man. He met his new wife while he and she were in rehab He for alcoholism and she for drugs. and he wasn't the only pow How about the men who lost their lives. Being a pow doesn't give you experience to be a president/

    November 1, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. Go OBAMA

    we dems thank cheyney. i think u sealed for us. good job

    November 1, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. mitch

    more stoopit stuff from loser repubs.

    November 1, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. Scoti

    At this point, does anyone know if Obama really knew she was in the country illegally? I would think that the press and the McCain campaign would have already looked into this issue.

    November 1, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  25. TangoDancer

    the release of the data is suspicious at this time. More imporantly... Barack can't be held accountable for the actions of this person, whatever it is she is doing. Ms. Onyango may have a paternal-aunt kinship relation to Obama, but she is nothing more than that. She'll have to work with the immigration authorities and respect the law. As many others are quick to point out, we don't hold John McCain to be accountable for a call placed by his brother to 911 about excessive traffic.

    One of the important issues in this case deals with immigration, and all of the complexities pertaining to this issue. That will be a topic for the next president and the next congress to address.

    Another issue are the contributions to Obama (I believe the aggregate total = $260) from this non-national person. The Obama campaign is doing the correct thing by reimbursing these funds to Ms. Onyango. This is important to me since I've donated a fair amount of money to the BHO campaign and the public and the world needs to know that "we" – as in American citizens both on US soil and living abroad – funded this campaign in a clean and legitimate manner. Everyone will have to accept the statisticial probability that there will be some donations of questionable origin. McCain's campaign and the RNC are dealing with the same stuff. As long as all of the records of all contributions are thoroughly scrutinized during the final close-out of election 2008, then the American people and the governmental bodies should be satisfied.

    We have to trust the process, no matter how difficult that can be at times.

    Good luck to the Ms. Onyango. Maybe she'll have the opportunity for another review of her application for asylum.

    November 1, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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