November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
5 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. Laura, Boston

    Why is it every time Obama gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar it is McCain's fault.

    He did think twice to allow Joe the Plumber to to treated horribly.

    His Aunt donated to his campaign. She is not allowed to. How many other foreigners have donated to his campaign. The dems didn't think twice to report about G.W. Bush's DWI which was clearly fair game.

    His Aunt was at his swearing in in 2005, she was mentioned in his memoirs. Now (just like Rev. Wright) he didn't know she was even living in the country illegally. Come on the man is a Harvard Law School Graduate and a lawyer. Do you all really believe he didn't know.

    Of course the MSM will report this and Obama will say I didn't know and they will say oh okay and that will be that.

    He is a phony!

    November 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. JUNIOR

    THIS IS ANOTHER REPUBLICAN ATTEMPT OF LIES AND SMEARS. A SO CALLED HALF UNTI THAT SEN. OBAMA REALLY DOES NOT KNOW OF AND NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR. NO MATTER WHAT THE REPUBLICANS DO. WE WON´T REWARD THEM FOR THE PAST 8 YEARS !! NO PALIN, NO McBUSH!
    I AM A REPUBLICAN AND I WILL STILL VOTE OBAMA.
    OBAMA / BIDEN Nov.4

    November 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  3. Margaret Anderson

    Of course it is a leaked story. A pathetic attempt at sensationalism. McCain cannot win on honor, so dirty tricks have to be played. I will be absolutely devastated if McCain wins Tuesday. Campaigns will never change if this sort of thing works.

    Margaret of Idaho

    November 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  4. weneedstrongleadership

    Ok, CNN you are biased you want money to stay alive so all you can put up is all McCain and negative Obama. Your losing all credablity. Mr Independent Lou Dobbs you are a fake, on your show yesterday when talking about which way swing voters would sway, when the answer was that they would sway toward McCain, your enthusiasm was that of a child on christmas morning.

    November 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  5. syl

    The moral imperative is that Obama should release the name of all his donors...in the same way that MCain has.

    There are lot of illegal donors (ie non US citizens) who have contributed to the Obama campaign. And he should do the right thing...release the names of his donors.
    To refuse to do so, really lays bare his lack of adherence to democratic principles.

    November 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. saudi-nyc

    WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON THESE DAYS?? NO ONE IS STUPID, MC CAIN AND BUSH HAD THIS PLANNED FIRST OF ALL NO ONE HAS SAID ANYTHING ABOUT HIS AUNT UNTIL NOW ??? BUSH ANDHIS PEOPLE HAVE HAD THIS ALL ALONG, AND TRYING TO USE IT AGAINST OBAMA IN THE LAST HOURS, HOW TYPICAL OF THE BUSH/MC CAIN TICKET – MORE OF THE SAME!! I HOPE SOMEONE IS KEEPING A SCRAPEBOOK FOR THE BUSH AND MC CAIN OH YEAH AND THE PALIN FAMILIES TO REVISIT WHILE THEY ARE AT HOME WHEN OBAMA IS ANNOUNCED AS OUR "NEW PRESIDENT" ON TUESDAY. THE BIBLE SAYS WHAT COMES AROUND GOES AROUND TREAT OTHERS AND YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.

    November 1, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  7. ALmod

    I think the question that should REALLY be asked here... Why did AP release a story when they couldn't confirm whether or not it was true? This woman could very well be here legally.

    The AP states TWICE in its own story that nobody from immigration is allowed to comment or release information on individual cases. CNN reports the same. Further, they seem baffled as to how a woman can qualify for public housing with such a questionable immigration status.

    Not to mention, AP (in its own words) "could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved." Further, the information was released so close to the election...

    As David Letterman would say, something about this smells.

    November 1, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  8. Ike from Shreveport, LA

    Hey It sounds like something Foxnews would put out. There webite home page is always flooded with Obama stuff not even related to the campaign or the issues. These people against Obama have tried everything. They have called him everything in the book...the right have talked about his mother,wife,aunt and brother in Nairobi yet if you say anything about Cindy Mcain..then you've just sinned. On election day he will be vindicated.......I can't wait to listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on November 5.

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  9. Mike O

    What's suspicious is why Mr. 'Share the Wealth' has never done a thing for his Aunt, his Uncle, his half brother, or the cousins he promised to help 2 years ago. Try sharing your own wealth to family first before you appropriate ours.What's suspicious is why Mr. 'Share the Wealth' has never done a thing for his Aunt, his Uncle, his half brother, or the cousins he promised to help 2 years ago. Try sharing your own wealth to family first before you appropriate ours.

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  10. Hi

    duh

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. FormerAlaskanFemale

    I was an early voter for President Obama!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. Sue

    So, what’s the big deal? There are millions of illegal immigrants in this country. One in Obama’s family is not surprising, given his ethnically diverse background. Also, it is simply an accurate representation of this country – where immigrants come to live to start a new life. A denial of this historic fact, is a denial of reality.

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. Liberals are Scary

    The fact of the matter is that any question about Obama, regardless of legitimacy, is questionable thanks to the Liberal Media.

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. KJ

    ck... do you even know what socialism is? get a dictionary. look it up!

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. Msv123

    You betcha! I love Palin!

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. Hard Working American for McCain

    What? This is suspicious because it will effect your campaign. because you have lied to the American peolple or/and you really aren't an American Citizen either. You are as you appear, a fake! Which is it Obama?

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  17. FLORIDA for Obama

    Desperation.....

    PALIN/McCain = Racism, Hate, War, Death to 1000s MORE of our MEN AND WOMEN Unable/Unstable

    Obama/Biden
    The Answer is Black AND White

    PALIN/McCain FOLLOWERS Natzi PIGS no lipstick

    Obama/Biden
    TWO GREAT MINDS ARE BETTER THAN NONE

    November 1, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  18. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Well they have tried to call Obama everything humanly possible that is threatening; they have tried to purge rolls in every battleground state; Bush tried to create a crisis by invading Syria; and now they have dropped this about his aunt.
    Why do we never hear about "Keating Five," McCains affairs, Gordon Liddy? The reason is Obama wants to work with people not destroy them.
    This country has never needed a change more than it does now. Four more years of this crap and we will be back in the divisive 60's mentality. I have never seen such mean and sneaky people.

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  19. Liz, St. Louis, Mo

    Wow! Wonders will never cease, so just because Obama is running for presidency he is supposed to know what all his relatives are doing or upto. I am not a US citizen but I am amazed by the pettiness of McCain's campaign. What does this lady's illegal status got to do with Obama. By the way, no illegal immigrant goes advertising their status! Leave Obama alone and stick to serious issues! This funny tactics won't work. What a waste! I am suprised that even big media houses like CNN are concentrating so much energy on airing such a non issue while ignoring Todd Palin's AIP ties!

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. Tex-G

    And I guess Obama did not know his father figure/mentor Frank (Frank Marshall Davis) who he speaks about in his book, Dreams from My Father, was a membrer of the Communist Party and a sexual pervert? I wonder if the 13 year old girl named Ann that Frank talks about in his book that he and his wife had sex with could have been Obama's mother (Ann)"???
    http://www.usasurvival.org/docs/Rpt_Davis_Sex.pdf

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  21. phil

    Where are Palin's medical records? We don't care about the status of his aunt. We want to know if the VP candidate had an abortion or her 17yr old daughter just had a baby.

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. Ruth

    What are the results of the meeting Palin and the first dude had last Friday? Everyone seems to have forgotten about that. It was suppose to let us know about her abuse of power as bovernor.

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  23. Never will vote for obama

    Typical of the ULTIMATE TEFLON DON.. He is responsible for nothing unless it's a positive story, and ducks and moves all other accusations.

    Nice Job.

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  24. wolverene ( Canada )

    Has,Sarah's hairdresser seen a 666( the next antichrist ). Check behind her ears. OH! OH!. I have to hide now, All Sarah has accomplished that I have noticed is, she brings out the worst in what are normally good all americans people, and MaCain is her meinien.

    Obama, will start the unity of the world and will sucseed in time as long as Sarah does not get elected in 2012.

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  25. Marc Margolis

    What is Obama aware of???? Obama is not aware of Tony Rezko the Chicago crime boss. Obama is not aware of his lifelong pastor being an Anti-American, Anti-Semite. Obama is not aware that he was born outside of the USA. Obama is not aware that the fnds for his education came from a Islamofascist named Prince Al-Waleed. Obama is not aware William Ayers is an American Terrorist that killed Americans. Obama is not aware that Khaliti his good friend and neighbor is an Anti-America Anti-Semite. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm I see a pattern here, maybe Obama is not aware enough to be our next President! I call an Obama run for President of the USA Suspicious!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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