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. Nola

    Let's address Cindy McCain ignoring her half sister- Let's address John McCain ignoring his African America family- why are we spending any time on the issue of Obama's half-aunt- Please tell me why we are not spending this time to address the many issues that the people in this country are having to address each day – low wages, high cost of food, poor education systems- someone please tell me why the media is writing about dumb issues?

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

    Doesn't change my vote. Just wish this was over with to stop all the accusations and such. Sick of hearing it!

    November 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. GLORY BURKE

    When are we going to have "Joe the Plumber" bring thigs out of the sewer about McCain and Palin? They have cleaned the sewer to find mess about Obama. Is race a facto here?

    November 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. Freedom for All

    Repug's are so dumb. Do you really think anyone will change thir mind and not vote Obama because of an Aunt. As of right now no one really knows what her statis is here in the US. Obama is a US Senator, don't you think he has already checked into her statis and made whatever arrangements that need to be made legal, made legal. It isn't like he doesn't have the connections to get approval for her to be here. Repug's are just trying to make something out of nothing. Just as McCain never talkeds about his issues, but only talks about Obama's issues. McCain will do anything to change the subject from the economy, even make up rumors about an old lady.

    November 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. annie - never again a dem.

    The only thing suspicious is the lie that obama didn't know anything about 'auntie'

    November 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  6. carolyn

    so what is she the only one get a life this is americ the beautiful land of the free home of the brave im proud of my country and i thank god every day for our country and our freedom wake up and realize how fortunate you qre to live in america

    November 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  7. Kathi

    I can't get past the Obama ditching his church after all those years and I can't buy into going with the crowd on this one. Once elevated to "THE ONE" status really makes me nervous....I prefer "the only one who has EVER fought for me". Call me loyal.

    November 1, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  8. Not Joe!

    The Republicasn will use anything to win even if it is stolen information that is private, but hey they only care about staying in office so they can keep using the American people as ATM Machines! And for thier Socialist goals of bailing out thier failing companies!

    November 1, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. Vote for Change

    Gee, I just do not care about this. McCain has thrown better spaghetti than this at the wall and nothing has stuck IMHO.

    November 1, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. sandee in Portland

    @ dp..."you don't know what he stands for". Well, if you would check out his voting record while in Illinois and D.C., you would know what he stands for by the way he voted. Try looking up McCain's and Obama's voting records. You might learn something and become an informed voter instead of an uneducated one.

    Moderate republican voted for Obama

    November 1, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. weco

    investigation by Homeland in 48hrs? Come on, give me a break. The aunt ought to be the first one to show the proof (visa/green card whatever) to clear the mess, if only for the sake of her nephew. I am reasonably sure that she can not (i.e. what reported is true), otherwise Obama's campaign would have shown the proof in the first minute.

    November 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. Joe

    Elect McCain and Palin on Nov 4

    VOTE VOTE VOTE
    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

    November 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. eagle_eye

    Whatever be it – McCain is going to win and please dont ask me why. Stupid – even kid next door knows the reason – Coz he is WHITE.

    It's sad state of affairs in America. Cant people see what mess we are in right now and who did it? Bush, the Republican did it.

    By this year end we would have spent 1.2 trillion dollars at Iraq war and lost around 5000 soldiers but does anyone know the reason of attack on Iraq ( I know the have WMD – my fat azz)

    If above is not enough – look at the financial crisis we are in, 700 billion $ bailout plan.

    Whose money is this .7 + 1.2 ~ 2 trillion$? And FYI China's GDP is 4 Trillion $. U dont get it, do you. McCain is as Republican as Bush. Can a Hyena be a Wolf, well McCain is trying hard.

    November 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. FreddyO

    From down under it appears once again like a desperate attack by the Macain/Pain campaign. How low will they go...I wish could vote from oz!

    November 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  15. Tosha in Texas

    This news is an attempt by the Republicans to change minds before the 4th. It is funny how no one can confirm or deny the information about the aunt's citizenship. It is confidential information leaked by a person whom is under a confidentiality agreement. An investigation should be done and charges should be filed against this individual or individuals involved. As usual for Republicans nothing is out of reach when you are trying to win. We need new leadership and new government.

    Obama/Biden 08

    Yes we can!

    November 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  16. Joe

    Elect McCain and Palin on Nov 4

    VOTE VOTE VOTE
    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

    November 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. James Doerrer

    She is an aunt kind of, She is I guess a half sister of Obama;s absent father. I am not sure where is this on a family tree? Not only that but is IN FACT ILLEGAL for the INS or any government agency to give out ones citizen status. Then the news can't get this info where did it come from. I checked and ABC, NBC, CBS, NY TIMES, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, Can't get the info. How much clout do you have to have, (or bribe money) do you have to give up for such information.? FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. Tim J

    How many more are here in the US living off of the goverment.

    November 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. Susan

    I hope your Aunt can remain in the USA after you get elected this TUESDAY!!!

    Grandmas for Obama

    November 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. FL for OBAMA

    ck,

    LOL, you mentioned the "Socialism" rhetoric in the same post as hypocrite...the irony. What do you call this Republican administration's $780 billion banking bailout AND McCain's $300 billion mortgage bailout proposal. That's "Socialism.". Pot, please meet kettle.

    Regarding this story, Republicans are always talking about personal responsibility (again, irony). Aunt Zeituni is responsible for her own status, and Obama took appropriate action by returning the donation.

    Other than that, it's a non-story showing suspicious desperation. Eight is enough of the nonsense. It's time for real reforms in our country,

    Obama/Biden '08

    November 1, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. Nickolas Payovich

    Now listen, you want to vote for McCain, fine, but I have 6 kids, all have the flu and one needs speech therapy for a lisp. She is so cute when she says “bote for Obaba”. But seriously Obama is the future of this country and presently my only hope for a income. If he is voted in, hopefully with your help, I’ll a have a chance to receive stipends for teaching at the Community Education Center in the new Obama proposed development of a division that will in effect participate in the joint council that will determine the Effects of Government Service in Reeducating Politically Non-compliant Citizens. So give me a break, PLEASE, respond like you are being influenced so my supervisor will see it, I need this new job, my only other choice is to register in person at the downtown Burger King.

    November 1, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. cap

    Where is Barack H. Obama's birth certificate???????????????? You liberals better think twice before pulling that lever on Tuesday.

    November 1, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  23. Paris

    The best political team on TV couldn’t verify this either?

    Rezko, Ayers, Wright, Frank and now his aunt and CNN not only can’t verify any of it I guess you couldn’t ask the question either.

    CNN = Obama HQ

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  24. Chris

    If he is not aware of the circumstances of his own family, I'm sure he'll be very aware of the needs of everyday Americans….

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  25. ST

    Yeah, he's going to take such good care of America when he doesn't know (or ignores) that his aunt is illegal and his half brother lives in a hut on a dollar a week. What was that about brother's keeper and family is the most important?

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
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