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. Unreal

    Elle.....

    What does his aunt have to do with him being President? So are you trying to tell me that if you interview for a job and the hiring manager found out that you had a counsin who received a speeding ticket through a school zone which you neglect to tell them during the interview process then they shouldn't hire you? Question: What does your counsins speeding ticket have to do with you being qualified for the job? Answer: None and it is irrelevant. My point exactly........Give me a break.

    November 1, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  2. ohio voter

    I cannot wait till November 5th, so I can wake up and know that McCAin and Palin and there moral filth will Go away !!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  3. dzung,frisco,tx.

    McCain and Palin stop worry about Obama,please tell us your issues
    I have been waiting for awhile now,before I decided to vote,I need to know!!! Who cares about his aunt,just like who cares about your aunts!
    we care about the personality of the cadidates not his or her family,when I compared the personality of Obama and both of you,you guys loosing big time,he 's very calm at everything including your attacked,you and your know nothing VP candidate are so angry,impolite,hard head.....I do not want to have a president that get so angry when he loosing ground,how can you make smart decisions when you are angry??

    November 1, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. shelley

    What does the word illegal mean? The fact is, this woman, as well as all the other illegals should be deported. Further, if Obama wants to "spread the wealth", can someone please tell me why his aunt is living in public housing and on welfare? His brother in Kenya lives on one dollar a month. He should be ashamed of himself for not taking care of his family members. It is now clear to me that Obama wants to spread my wealth around, but certainly not his wealth. Telling the public that he didn't know his aunt's "illegal" status is like me telling you that I am not aware that my mother lives across the street from me. I was an undecided voter until I read this story. Now I am positively sure who I am voting for.

    November 1, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. 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 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 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. park more - New orleans

    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

    Wao, if he does not know about his relative, DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT HE WILL CARE ABOUT AMERICAN PEOPLE CONCERNS.....I AM SURE NOT BECAUSE HE IS LOOKING FOR AMBITION....I AM DEMOCRAT AND I WILL VOTE McCain

    Do not trust Obama

    November 1, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. Isabella

    Never mind suspicious , what about being shameful and disgusting.
    Obama has been preaching to share the wealth , well it looks that he meant to use our hard earned money not his own
    When are Americans going to wake up and see this man for what he really is , a phoney and fraud.

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

    Yeah, and I heard that Obama's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate once took the same flight as the gardener that lived next door to a man who gave a haircut to the guy who picks up the trash at the bus stop where a former member of the Nation of Islam catches a ride to work.

    Whatever.

    Obama '08

    November 1, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. Bill from Redding, Ca

    Suspicious? Axelrod, like his candidate, BO may be thin skinned.

    They throw the press off the plane to put a documentary crew aboard and it just so happens that their newspapers endorsed McCain, NOW that is suspicious.

    They black listed several news reporters including the one from ABC News, in Florida who asked legitimate questions but too tough for BO, NOW that is suspicious.

    They will not release records of Obama's health, NOW that is suspicious.

    They will not release records or comment on Obama's Columbia and Harvard years and no one can find anyone that went to school with him to interview, NOW that is suspicious.

    They won't talk about his years of drug addiction, (Cocaine is highly addictive only crack is more addictive), where he got his drugs from or if he himself sold drugs to get through school, NOW that is suspicious.

    I could go on and on and on but then you might think that, that would be suspicious.

    November 1, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. Brian Bishop

    Is Barack Hussein Obama an illegal alien???

    November 1, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. John

    I don't believe I know what all my cousins, aunts, uncles and distant relatives are doing. If I were trying to run for President with a prepared plan there is less of a chance. Of Cource McClown ios running without a plan. McCain is running the campaign of a coward. Sucker punches of fabricated lies.
    If MClown wants to talk policy I will listen but frankly he has a lot to overcome after the disaster of the past 8 years.
    Obama is the MAN.

    November 1, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. Flying Dutchman

    Hey Americans, a message from The Netherlands, Beverwijk:
    We're all praying for Obama to win. (yes praying, even though we dutchmen are considered sodomising athiests in America)
    The world needs a need leader installed in America, to not only move the economical situation forward to better all of us, but aswell to improve the mutual relations once again, like it was under President Clinton.

    Please don't be fooled by the mudslinging from the McCain/GOP/Bush/Rove campaign. Obama needs to win in order for the world and America to heal.

    November 1, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  13. GLORY BURKE

    If Senator Obama's aunt is living illegally in the USA after being denied asylum, what does Obama's campaign have to do with it? There are so many half truths, and lies that have been tossed on Obama.

    I am glad that he is such a decent person to run a clean campaign. Does anyone remember that wen Sarah Palin presented her pregnant teenage daughter to America, that Obama, instructed his campaign personnel to get off it when they wanted to make a fiels day of it?

    Are they going to tell the world that Sarah was also an unwedded pregnant mother prior to purchasing the Thirty – five dollar wedding band which Todd now keeps in his pocket?

    I am sure that Obama and his well-groomed and educated wife could research mess about McCain, but they keep on the issues that Americans want to hear. Gosh, what will they do when Brack wins the election?

    November 1, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. Vvi

    How much do you know about your close friends and relatives, financially, politically, emotionally? Who know if Obama's aunt disclose that to her relatives?! If there is no evidence that Obama intentionally & illegally support his aunt's illegal stay, that is off the limit to this election.

    November 1, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  15. Josephine Grison

    Again the Republicans are desperately trying anything and everything to discredit Barack Obama. One thing I have taken from this Presidential Election is that the Republican Party believes that the majority of people living in the United States are stupid. I have not heard one not one policy or idea John McCain has for our country the only thing he does is attack Obama. When the Wall St. crisis happened about a month ago McCain said the fundamentals of our economy are strong?????? Then an hour later he said we are in a crisis!!! YA THINK???? His behavior proved to me that he has no idea of what to do or needs to be done.
    I was a liberal but after this awful behavior by McCain and his party I changed my party from Liberal to Democrat.
    McCain I am not stupid and will not be fooled by YOUR lies.
    Voting for Obama.
    Josephine Grison – from Reading, PA

    November 1, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  16. Katie from AZ

    You know what? I too am losing respect for this website by the day. I don't think CNN is in anyone's pocket but clearly ANY story about Obama is newsworthy even if it is released completely irresponsibly. Come on, CNN don't be a sell out like Fox, you'll lose all credibility.

    November 1, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  17. King

    breaking news!!! Obama's great great grandmother is a female has one head and can move. some news. Mavericks!

    November 1, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  18. james

    The woman is poor as a goat and gives Obama money? Must be looking to get a room in the White House! Ironic...........Obama's wife worked as a voluntary afent.............almost 300.000 per year as a VOLUNTEER! Obama own half brother lives in dire poverty..............never gave him a dime....................Obama is an abortionist...most 'liberal" abortionist in American history to "serve' as president..............Now...........vote for the darn fool..............you deserve him!

    November 1, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  19. Bobbie in Maryland

    This is nothing but politics at its worst! This situation has nothing to do with Obama; I have relatives that I wouldn't want to take responsibility for...LOW BLOW REPUGS!!

    November 1, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. jt

    McCain, this is not going to stick, it's not gonna work, last minute desperation, sick and tired of Kar Rove's dominated politics but not this time...

    November 1, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. peter

    It is very sad that voters would spend even one nannosecond on "Obama's aunt". The poor man barely knew his father, he probably has about 50 aunts and uncles and cousins and 1/2 brothers and 1/4 relations that he doesn't even know exist and could probably care less. His family is/was his mother and maternal granparents and others he may choose to get to know. If you want to get crazy about "family" everybody on the planet is related.

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

    This news may just swing more minority votes to Obama, possibly crucial hispanic votes in places like Florida and the southwestern states..

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

    Once again we hear from Obama that he didn't know , just like he didn't know about Rev. Wright.
    He has been telling Joe the plumber that it is healthy to spread the wealth , what he forgot to mention that he was talking about everybody elses money , not his own.
    When are Americans going to wake up and see this man for what he really is , a phoney and fraud.

    November 1, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  24. Robe

    One Question.

    Where Is Gov. Palin's Medical Records That Were Supposed To Be Released?

    Where Are They?

    November 1, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  25. Bill

    He has no knowledge of his aunt being here. To me all that shows is that he is out of touch with his family and he will be out of touch with the people if he is elected president.

    GOOOOO! John and Sarah and get out the VOTE!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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