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. GT

    funny how the mccain/palin ticket is finding all these "issues". can they just deal with really issue plaguing the usa and find the right solutions? or will they continue to find everything under the rock to distract the voting people. i can't vote; i'm a proud canadian but wish you american look at the facts and not all these distraction. good luck. i hope you make the right choice....

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. surprised????

    blame it all on the DEMONIC DUO....who else would do such a rotten, sleazy reporting.....they were given the info from a government person......but it won't work.....this DEMONIC DUO haven't told us what they are going to do on policy issues....all they do is LIE LIE LIE LIE...and the ignorants who follow them

    VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE....the only human candidates Sens Obama and Biden.....the others are just reptiles

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Chris

    It doesn't make us any more suspicious that many...many...of us already are of him.

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. TimeFor Change!

    Pathetic how low will the McCain Campaign stoop in order to STEAL this election? However this will BACKFIRE big time on McCain, leave Relatives out of your extreme right wingnut smears!!! Palin is a National Disgrace can't wait for her scandalous interview with the Canadian comedy duo, heard she advocated the killing of innocent Baby Seals what a Heartless Woman!?!?

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. SC

    If the news media would have done thier job and not takng sides in the reporting of the candidates, we would have alot more info on Obama that would be suspiciuos. After finding things out about Obama, I will change my vote and vote for McCain. I rather take my changes with him than with someone the media seems to be covering up for.

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. Alissa in Kansas

    "CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status." <-- that's all I need to know. Until it's certain it's not a story. Even if it were I still wouldn't care because it's his AUNT not HIM! So who cares?

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. American Joe

    Obama is a liar. Period. He has lied from day one. America is losing it's sense of direction. Most all people who vote for obama is doing so just because of race and don't even know the issues or what he stands for. The are deaf, dumb & blind. With an emphasis on "dumb". All of you who get my money because I work for it and support you as it is, spend it wisely , please. That's of course if obama gets elected. God I hope and pray he don't, because those who vote for him now will be happy in 3 days and very regretful in 300 days.

    November 1, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. cj

    The last attempt of McCain/Palin to discredit t Barack Obama's character ended real quick when McCain was brought up in the same thing. Well "gosh darn" that didn't work so now we need to find something else. So now they roll out the Aunt issue. Come on McCain;/Palin especially McCain you call this an honorable honest campaign, you and your running mate have made this the most dispiciable disgusting campaign I can remember and I am 60 years old. McCain Palin down the road your names will be linked (has already happened) with people that may be questionable so be very carefull throwing stones, it just may come back to haunt you.

    November 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Melanie Cole

    This is a very smelly fish that the RNC , the McCain Campaign and the Bush Administration have pulled out of the water. Please! This is completely illegal for the INS to leak information about the status of immigrants. Call your senator and representative and ask for an investigation. You pay the salaries of the people who brought this to light. If you support Barak Obama, your tax dollars were just spent to support John McCain. Be outraged and call for an investigation. Email Rep Conyers too...ask him to come on CNN! Make Monday a pro-Obama day on the news and lets hear about the illegal nature of all this on CNN.

    November 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. FAYE, NV

    What does that have to do with Obama's policies and his agenda? There are many people in the USA that are not citizens. This is not a reflection on Obama nor what he stands for.

    Therefore, I don't care what the others may say. I wish each person who would like to be a citizen of the USA obtain their citizenship.

    Obama/Biden

    November 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. JJ

    I am glad that they are looking into this and hope that they find out who endangered this woman whether she should or shouldn't be here. This is pathetic for CNN to report such information without a reputable source. This is what we call a black sheep that hides in the crowds. McCain camp has been throwing stones and hiding their hands. They should cut the press until they can find out who link the information and why.

    Still Obama is my man. Go Obama you are the new changer of the world.

    November 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Susan Cusson

    Oh Yes, what about the Kenya connection??? DIG!!!!!!You'll find the story. Sorry, but I am a Democrat for McCain. I don't believe in ethnic cleasning.

    November 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Go figure! The Bush Administration and the McCain Campaign is willing to do anything to win! Typical Radical, Right-wing, Evangelical, Republican ways of campaigning.. They make me sick! When are the real republican's gonna come back? The Reagan Republican's.. The honorable GOP.

    November 1, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Amber

    We can not choose who we are related to. This is clearly a bad p.r. move and we the people want and increase in our wages, hold these companies accountable for excellent health coverage, save the people from the mortg crisis, stop allowing these companies to close down jobs her in our country and get rewarded for opening businesses overseas, and once an for all tell us the facts and not the smoke screens like this and Joe P.and dirty politics. Give us the facts and that's all we ask! The Repubs are back @ it again if u ask me Obama is destined to win this years election since this has to be a new world record of all time low!

    November 1, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. Mike, Land O Lakes, FL

    Why is anyone surprised the Bush administration decided to leak this story few days before an election to helpout John McCain???????

    November 1, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Bob

    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 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Lien

    This issue is not very important for the election. However, I am pretty sure Obama knows all about this long before. He even mentioned her in his book. As an immigrant, I know all my relatives and friends who came to this country under which status. Of course, I always get excited when my relatives and friends made it to this country. This simple issue can define what charater Obama is. Very funny.

    November 1, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Brian

    What did Obama know and when did he know it? The Attorney General needs to appoint a Special Prosecutor for possible impeachment charges against Obama for conspiracy to violate immigration laws and for being an accessory after the fact. IMPEACH OBAMA NOW! (That'll keep the fun of the campaign going for another year)

    November 1, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Mike

    This last attempt of McCain to attack Obama in a so viciously way just makes me throw up...

    November 1, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. David

    It's non-news anyway- just about as critical to the election as my show size or the temperature in Omaha today!

    November 1, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. NO McBushChen for AMERICA

    SEEMS TO ME THAT McBushChen IS BUSH & CHANEY

    ROLLED UP IN ONE, ECONOMIC MORON & WARMONGER.

    November 1, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. Billy

    Palin got pranked called by The Masked Avengers from CKOI 96.9 FM, its a 6 min conversation. She is a ninny.

    November 1, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. IF, Portugal

    People say this is not the McCain they knew... could they have been wrong? What I've seen of him on this campaign has been far from honourable. Unless he's been brain-washed this is McCain being McCain under a crisis.

    He keeps saying he's been tested... maybe, but if he refers to being a POW, then a lot of americans unfortunately share that past. What sets him apart from all the other POWs?

    Maybe he's being tested right now... and, if so, he flunked on character.

    November 1, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Cincy Nurse

    When is America going to wake up....this is just another thing to add to a candidate fraught with Anti-American tails. Wake up America...Wake up! You can't tell me this man didn't know about his aunt. I would know about mine. Some close knit family man. Wow Wee! And....he makes millions allowing his aunt to take from tax payers...this is so foul and gross to me, I am a democrat voting McCain on Tuesday....how much more is there? ....and don't tell me I wasn't going to vote for Obama....that isn't the case here....this is just another hidden secret.

    November 1, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Deren

    What does this have to do with the price of tea in China???

    It's all over......why don't the GOP move on to the next installment of their soap opera and start their steward's inquiry now. No need to wait for the spanking they going to get come Nov 4th.

    This will be a great historical case study how to botch things up.

    November 1, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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