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. ASIAN GUY

    Even without the issue of his (BO) aunt, I give my support to McCain-Palin. I used to be a Hillary supporter.

    November 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. NatV, NYC

    Yes, I'm very-very suspicious about many things Obama said or did in his life. If Obama will become the President, ( hope not), half of Kenya will be illegally living here, we will be prosecuted for anything negative we said or wrote about Obama, his family or his policies: exactly how it was in my native Russia. Doesn't it smell like a socialism?

    November 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. Not Joe!

    Palin does it again; she receives a fake prank call from the President of France, so that they can try to boost her foreign policy skills. This woman is a complete idiot and she does not know how to talk to anyone on the phone. Then she try’s to use his first name as if she knows him, but it was all fake, what a dummy. And cracks jokes about killing animals, and she does not know who the Prime Minster of Canada is, she just keeps proving how dumb she is! Then she curses at the guy!

    Does anyone around her know anything about verifying thing before allow her to talk to someone she has never met before! She is dumb and so is her hired help!

    November 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. BJGT

    Palin Prank Call: Masked Avengers, Canadian Comedy Duo, Convince Palin She's Talking To French President Sarkozy

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcEiR01QK7o&w=640&h=390]

    November 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. Not Joe!

    Palin does it again; she receives a fake prank call from the President of France. This woman is a complete idiot and she does not know how to talk to anyone on the phone. Then she try’s to use his first name as if she knows him, but it was all fake, what a dummy. And cracks jokes about killing animals, and she does not know who the Prime Minster of Canada is, she just keeps proving how dumb she is! Then she curses at the guy!

    Does anyone around her know anything about verifying thing before allow her to talk to someone she has never met before! She is dumb and so is her hired help!

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. Dave

    Is this the best McCain can come up with 72 hours before the election? Boy, are these folks grasping at straws. You think people care Obama's half-aunt is possibly in trouble over an immigration issue? Does this help make Healthcare more affordable or resolve our wars in the Middle East? How does this move our Economy in the right direction?

    McCain/Palin are clueless...

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. HAWK, TEXAS

    The outing of an c.i.a. agent by the bush administration. now the outing of Obamas aunt that may or may not be illegal.just more of the republican slime machine at work. Palin where are your medical records. afraid we will find out that your child is not your child but your grandchild.

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Look what desparate measures McShameless & Failin are trying to pull!!!....Do not be fooled that this if even real, has anything to do with Barak Obama!

    More attempts to try to steal the election with this sleaze!! Desparate to pull a rabbit out of a hat, they will sink to new depths of depravity, but the voters will see this is a world famous GOP dirty trick....Remember Nixon's dirty tricks??? Well, they are baaaaaack!

    What's next to try???Voters tell them what that gets them...losing!

    Obama/Biden 08/12

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  9. canucklehead

    Someone needs to brush up on their 20th century history:

    "Remember there was a change from "Stalin" to Hitler"

    Ummm....different countries dude. Need some work on your spelling too...

    Go Obama!

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  10. Clarence j

    We are in the final stage of the presidentail race still instead of trying to get more votes,McCain & Palin are steal trying to use mud to win instead of letting the people decide.

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. Griff

    aLL YOU HAVE TO DO aMERICA....Listen to Barack Obama Laugh in his Past travels for CIC... The go back 30yrs and listen to "Idi Amin" of Uganda..
    HaaHaa, HaaHaa....No Difference...

    November 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  12. oscar

    Cnn can you tell me why my comments are always awaiting moderation.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Susan MO

    We DO NOT want the candidate lying about this. If it's true, he better say so. We do not want him in the White Housa, and then find out he lied about this. This is now an important issue of his character.

    Democrats

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  14. Ken, Republican Voted for Obama

    If she is illegaly in the country and the feds know where she is why havent they deported her, why leak the news 72 hours to election. She has a home, so there is no big deal come Tuesday your nephew will be president.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. David

    This is the dumbest thing yet in an increasingly dumb campaign.

    Here I stand to lose thousands in my house, who knows how much in my retirement savings, and now possibly my job because the economy is in the tank, and we're expected to vote for McCain because the half-sister of Obama's dad, whom Obama barely knew overstayed her visa?

    Heaven help us if this kind of stupidity becomes the standard by which we select the leader of the free world.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. Chelle

    The bottom line is, Obama knew nothing about his Father's half sister status here in the USA. Now what? Do we change our minds? I don't think so. They need to find a story much stronger than that one. Is that all they have? People just can't accept the fact that Obama is a decent man and they want to find something dirty about him.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. Kim

    FYI McCain supporters ... It is illegal for Immigration to release this kind of information, so how was it leaked? That is why Conyers is asking Chertoff to investigate this incident. If anyone is in trouble it is the McCain campaign. Once again these people are trying to be sneaky but I'm sure this will be another incident that will backfire on them.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. Chester the Cat

    This is just the first part of the story.

    For those of you unaware of what is going on behind the scenes I suggest you read.

    http://www.pr-inside.com/state-of-hawai-i-backs-andy-martin-r893026.htm

    For citizens seeking the truth. Obama has yet to produce a certified Birth Certificate.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. Danny Asuo

    Crying out loud: the practice of Obama's retinue is blaming others if things don't go well for them and they have succeded in this. It is so incredible that Obama wouldn't know the immigrational status of an aunt which he has named in his book. The Democrats have thrown everything at Palin and McCain so it is ironic that they are talking about timing of this incidence. I'm hoping for Americans whith good judgment to help McCain/Palin to get rid of these liars.

    November 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. Richard

    I guess McFlipper and Palin are getting all Mavericky again. Don't they have anything better to do. Their campaign has been an orgasm of intellectual anarchy, indulgent in deficiencies in judgement, and either unwilling or incapable of articulating their views on issue voters are intersted in. Take a bow Johnny.

    November 1, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. wag

    Try this again:
    How many more is McSame and Soccer Mom ( aka) Joe Six-Pack,
    going to come with in the next two days?
    Can't wait til 11.05.08 , when its all over, and McSame can tuck his
    tail and go hide somewhere, and Soccer Mom goes back to Alaska.
    Oh, forgot, She is the rising star or the GOP. Heaven help them !

    November 1, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  22. Willa

    I couldn't care less about Obama's aunt's (irrelevant) legal status...I still think Barack Obama is smarter, has more common sense and is much better equipped to lead this country. This "timely" discovery is not going to change John McCain into a dependable, stable individual who demonstrates sound judgement and steadfastness in times of crisis, and it won't make VP Sarah Palin a Rhodes scholar.

    November 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. Black Republican of New York for Obama-Biden

    What does Obama's aunt being illegal in America got to do with Obama's mantra of change?

    How many illegals from Europe aren't living in America right now?

    November 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  24. Bill

    FYI...if Obama's aunt is here legally, he doesn't have to return the donations. U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents are both allowed to donate to political campaigns. That being said, the timing does seem fishy, but if Obama's aunt is an illegal, does that really say anything bad about Obama? Not really. McCain's wife is/was a pill popper who illegally used money from her charitable foundation to pay for her substance abuse. Makes his wife a criminal, not him.

    November 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Amanda

    OK...so, now we are bringing family members in the conversations?? I thought they were gonna be left out...while we are at it, why dont we talk about Gov. Palins daughter......I think this is so stupid and should be left out of the whole situation............

    November 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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