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. Martha Hussein Baker for Barack

    Get out and vote people! It's not over yet. VOTE VOTE VOTE!

    YES WE CAN!

    OBAMA '08

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. Dee

    For any voters who cannot decide who to vote for, the Republicans like to make up lies about Obama, but they don’t want to tell the truth about Palin and McCain. Take a look at these clips, this is the truth and it is fact, straight from the candidate’s mouths:

    John McCain should drop out of the presidential race for these comments. He actually states that he does not agree with what the American people have to say:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-R5Vh5tOWk&w=640&h=390]

    Palin, well this short clip speaks for itself:
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrzXLYA_e6E&w=640&h=390]

    McCain on issues
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en0UsydYzSI&w=640&h=390]

    SARAH PALIN PRAISES BARACK OBAMA!!! (pssst, only until she was offered a seat as V.P.) Sarah Palin: "I'D VOTE FOR OBAMA" !!! ?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws4Tl3vHryQ&w=640&h=390]

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. Beth

    Only 2 days left and this is the best thing the GOP can come up with?
    They have spent way too much time digging for dirt and not enough time
    teaching Palin the job description for a vice president. The constitution is not that hard a read. Might want to brush her up on the 1st amendment also.

    Only 2 more days and the return of Camelot and peace in the land!

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. JK Ashburn, VA

    And the LA Times refusing to release the video of Obama and Khalidi is not suspicious? And, Obama refusing to release his college transcripts is not suspicious? Or Obama refusing to release his medical records is not suspicious? Or Obama refusing to say who paid for his considerable college tuition at Columbia and Harvard is no suspicious (maybe the aunt did it)?

    Let's focus the debate on the candidates, not their aunts. Oh, that's right, Obama won't give us the details of his past.

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. Dori

    I wonder why my well-to-do cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles won't keep me up, monitor all my legal affairs and such. Guess they don't realize it's the all American, patriotic, conservative and politically correct thing to do ;-)

    November 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. mitch

    arnold making fun of baracks skinny arms failed to mention mccains arms. i wont say any more, out of politeness! but, i bet barack could run circles around arnold in hoops. arnold cant get his arms over his head, for his biceps. probably steroids.

    November 1, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. Samanthajoe

    Does this even matter? The Mccain party will now try to use this as ammo, but in my opinion it does not matter. Let's ask why McCain is taking Joe the Plummer with him to D.C if he wins (God forbid)? What is he supposed to do there? America Please we cannot afford another four years of suffering. God Obama...

    November 1, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. Stream Of Consciousness

    CNN....you are a pathetic excuse for a news organization. Where have all the journalists gone??? How about reporting on something with a bit more relevance.

    It's okay, I know you guys won't post this or any of my other posts.

    November 1, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. Disgruntled voter

    I love how people are calling CNN biased.
    If Candy Crowley could get her head any further up HRC's rear end she could count her molars.
    And as far as the so-called "insiders" for the two parties, they have very handily picked some of the sleaziest Democrat's who think their party can do no wrong and the Republicans can do no right but the Republican guests speak kindly and critically of both parties.
    Don't even try to tell me CNN is pro Republican because that boat simply doesn't float.
    If anything they are heavily slanted toward the Democrats with all the PRO-OBAMA stories they air.
    Give me a break and go vote on Tuesday for your Socialist dictator.

    November 1, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. debi for Obama

    I have always been a CNN watcher and now I see this, "Shame on you CNN". I'm proud to say I early voted for the next President, Obama! The McCain/Palin camp should go to work for the tabloids digging up trash talk stories!

    November 1, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. luke

    McCain is a weasel. Its a shame he is ending his career this way.

    And Sarah palin won't release her medical records because they will prove that her new baby is actually her daughters first child. If you look at the timeline of her pregnancy you can see that there is no way the baby is hers.

    November 1, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Dionne

    First of all how many people really know where their aunt that is their father's half-sister is & what she's doing?. Didnt his father have an extremely large family? Hell I dont even keep up with my aunt who lives 3 hours away. And by the way, 'Joe THE PLUMBER' put himself out their when he decided to make the issue about his trumped up dream...how many people know that if you havent paid your taxes...maybe u should keep your mouth shut!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. chester

    With obamas shady background and radical socialist, marxist ideology. Will he invite Aires, Resco, Khalidi, Rev. Wright, Flager to the white house to accelarate the destruction of America from within as they plan ??? Thank god the majority of America and McCain will NOT let that happen.

    November 1, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. I'vehadenuff

    Question. Since we have only have two more days to go and we are still digging; would someone please dig up Sarah Palins medical records. Inquiring minds want to know!

    November 1, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  15. mike lawler

    If Obama knew about his aunt, wouldn't he, as a US Senato, been able to make her status here permanent.? Wouldn't he have been able to pull some strings? He did not! Don't you think that if he knew about his aunt that he would have done something to cover his butt? If this is the best "October Surprise" mccain and the repugs can come up with, it's pretty pathetic. Then again, his whole campaign has been pathetic.

    November 1, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  16. Honey

    I don't think Obama should be held accountable for the deeds or misdeeds of every member of his extended family. Reports indicate she is the half-sister to Obama's father; in the African world that could mean that they are not related at all, she may be only a family friend. Obviously, Obama has not been in contact with her over the years, so I don't understand why this is even news.

    November 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Ann

    If, as some say, Obama is responsible for his aunt, is Sarah Palin responsible for her daughter's actions?

    I seem to remember that it was said earlier in the campaign that the family was off limits...... if it is not then the families on both sides are fair game.

    November 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. Ari

    So Obama has an aunt in this country illegally. Whoop dee friekin doo. Arizonan for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  19. Jon

    7/29 was the 41 anniversary of the tragedy aboard the USS Forrestal. a day where 134 crewmen where killed and another 161 wounded. some reports indicate that John Mccain wet started his Sky Hawk, which led to a series of explosions. the brave men of the USS Forrestal fought for some 20 hrs to contain the blaze. John Mccain was immediately transferred to another ship the USS Oriskany (the only Forrestal crewman to be immediately transferred). A few month later John McCain would get shot down and captured by the Vietcong, he had by his own admission while being a POW gave up Military information to the enemy, garnishing McCain with the nickname…SONGBIRD. in 1973 returning home McCain would soon start having an affair with Cindy Lou, his now second wife. his then current wife Carol, who was a model at one point and the mother of his first children was in a car accident which left her dis figured. Mccain left her to marry Cindy 1 month after the divorce was final…thin ink had not dried. using Cindy's vast fortune McCain got into politics. he had risen from scandals including Keating 5 to reports of an affair with a lobbyist. Now John Mccain wants us to vote for him….i think NOT. i could not in good conscience vote for a man who graduated 894 out of 899, has 59 lobbyist working on his campaign ,1)Wayne Berman- chevron 2)Frank Donatelli-EXXON 3) Eric Burgeson-BP 4)Rabecca Anderson- Sunco 5) CHARLIE BLACK-OCCIDENTAL PETROLIUM 6)Nancy Pfotenhauer-KOCH (who is looking tattered defending McCain) 7) Randy Scheunemann-BP Amco….to name a few. who will do or say ANYTHING to get a vote, offers NO solution only attacks, has that kind of temper, finds the only answer to a problem is WAR. i know you don't have the guts to post this CNN, but the American people need to know the truth about this man.
    the media is still covering the 2000 Mccain, who has been LONG GONE. start doing your job CNN- so America does not make its biggest gaffe in 8 years

    November 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  20. Ko

    McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!! McCain/Palin 08!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. Jon

    McCain should be scrutinized…just like Obama has been. his character is in question, so are his ethics…john McCain has some 59 LOBBYIST running his campaign, that's not America first, John McCain gave up important Military info after 4 days, that's not putting his country before his own person, John McCain committed adultery, that's not a leader you can trust, John Mccain has lived off of the American people all of his life, owns 7 home worth 13 million, personal wealth of over 110 million, thinks being rich is making 5 million collects SS and "disability…why disability? yet he want us to believe he knows our pains…he failed to pay the taxes on his southern CA home. John McCain has the highest absent rate in the Senate, the worst record for Vets and women, supported the illegal war in Iraq, wants war with Iran and Russia, has no clue about economy, saying that "all in all we are doing better (than 8 years ago". says he knows how to "win" a war but has no record to back that claim up. John McCain is running on his war "hero" status, but he pushed legislation making it impossible for families to get info about their MIA/POWs…and still refuses to release his Military records…AND HE WANTS THE DRAFT

    November 1, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Know your History

    So much for spreading your wealth to even help out your own Aunt Obama. I guess it's alright to go after our money but not to use your own for your own family? Barack is a loser and Tuesday will be the final proof.

    November 1, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. Dori

    This "story" is sooooooo hilarious....just goes to show how DESPERATE the "mavericks" (yeah-right!) have become. Like I said-HILARIOUS!! :-)

    November 1, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  24. Deb

    OK Obama's Kenyan family is halfway around the earth. McCain won't acknowledge that his family owned slaves!

    November 1, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  25. Hos

    no big deal

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
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