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. fred

    day late, dollar short.
    im so glad im on the right side of history!

    November 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  2. joewey

    What else is going to be next? We've heard and seen all the McCain/Palin stunts against Sen. Obama. They're certainly desperate. I’m fed up with these dirty politicians. My support for Obama won't change a bit; and, I'm prepared to hear the worst about Obama. I can't afford the McBush for another four years. Don't be fooled people! Get up and vote Change. OBAMA 08

    November 1, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. beeteepee

    This is even worse than the Palin wardrobe story in terms of things that have no direct bearing on what the candidates have to offer as elected officials. I wish we could move beyond these kind of distractions and focus objectively on who we feel is going to do the best job.

    November 1, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  4. David

    Folks, the British press exposed this days ago. Specifically, three reporters from The London Times did a lengthy piece. It's been floating on the wire services internationally.
    What's sad is that they had to come here and discover something our own media couldn't.
    If all the media have access to the same international wire services, how is it a "McCain leak"???

    November 1, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  5. Griff

    I keep saying CNN! This not Kennedy 1963! Not Nixon! Not Bomb Bomb Russia Regan.... This is the Fall of Rome! Welcome the Whole of the Middle-East.... The Dooor is Wide-Open... Free House...
    The Drinks are on the USA... Bring your "Buckets of Sand" with you...

    November 1, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. mike

    Sad day for GOP and the entire campaign Mcshame/failing going so low in the mud...on Sen Obama's aunt? Wow where is Sen Mccains first wife? after waiting for him close to 6 yrs he came back left her and married the second wife even when she has faith that he will come back to her considering what she has been through for him(she didnt sign the divorce untill after Jmac married cindy) Sad cos Sen Obama didnt want to go there cos its family matters

    November 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. Oh, puhlease!

    What about Govenor Palin charging her numerous "work-related" family vacations to the good citizens of Alaska? Or charging a per-diem to the state so that she could live in her own house? Isn't that be larceny?

    What I want to know is how Palin keeps getting away with stuff. Did the Palins make a deal with the devil?

    Let's talk about the candidates, not their long-lost aunties.

    November 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. Jackson

    They can't get anything on Obama directly so they always go out into left filed to try to tie him to stuff.

    November 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. Blain

    This will never get posted but does anyone else find it amazing that this is actually being covered as newsworthy? While the fact that Sarah Palin and her husband have been members of the Alaska Independence Party that clearly states that they want Alaska to become it's own country and succeed from the union has not even been mentioned on this network? What does that say about McCain's judgement?

    November 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. stoopid

    I think everyone is just sick of these stupid plot lines and mudslinging. Over all this election has been just exhausting. I want to know how this country can get out of the crap hole G.W. and Chaney left us in. Can't believe you idiots voted for those guys twice. No wonder we're screwed now!

    November 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. Scott in Norfolk

    Doesn't Obama know anything about his own family?

    November 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. 3 days until Obama is President

    Who the hell cares about Obama's aunt? Honestly, the people who think this is representative of who Obama is are just desperately grasping at straws. Give me a break. This is so insignificant and so stupid, it's not even newsworthy.

    McPain and your laughable sidekick are all done, no matter what other 'secrets' you try to find. Neither of you deserve to be in the White House.

    November 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. Saba

    SO what? it is not his responsibility. She is not his wife, she is his aunt.

    November 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. Katrinia

    Its funny they bring all this mess up about Obama, but no one is talking about McShame the womanizer. What about him preparing to divorcing his 1st wife and getting a marriage license to marry Cindy before it was finally.

    All of this focus on mess is to keep us from focusing on the ISSUES

    November 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  15. Patrick

    "THIS IS WRONG: OBAMA IS WRONG"

    No more wrong than McCains black love child. I know it's true because I saw it on Fox and Hannity and Limbaugh said so so therefore it must be true and complete.

    Whatever... so his aunt wasn't granted asylum thats our own governments fault. It is after all... the Bush administration which has shown its incompetence on so many levels. I am sure the people he hired for the Immigration service were just as competent (sarcasm) as the folks who run FEMA.

    November 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. LT951

    I am also under moderation.........People never want to hear the truth!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. EDW

    She's Obama's half- aunt. The half sister of an estranged father. If you don't know whether or not she's really an illegal immigrant, because you can't verify this story, why run it?

    Hey Republicans, do you know what and where your red-neck uncle Joe Bob is doing right this minute???

    November 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  18. Enlightened Voter

    Honestly, what does this have to do with Barack? Seriously, does he control an aunt who he has MAYBE seen once in his life? It's his aunt people, not his child or wife. Who bloody cares. This is the 'moral majority' GOP at its best and they are disgusting!
    mccain/palin = clueless pathological liars!

    November 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. Jose

    I am from Venezuela, and would like to thank the pepole of the u.s for finaly have a man like Mr.Obama who is tired of capitalism and greed to lead your country. Our President Hugo Chavez has lead our country in the right direction just as your Mr.Obama will lead yours. Finaly the poor have a voice in your country. Thank you people of the usa and wecome back to the rest of the world..

    November 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Jen

    Is this the best the Neo-Cons can come up with at the last minute?????? Here's a news flash......THERE IS NO DIRT to dig up....so give it up.........the filthy Repuke-ians have enough dirt and scandal to fill the shelves of the Library of Congress for crying out loud!!!!!!!!
    Face it, America's finally fed up with the Totalitarian, fascist-style dictatorship of the Republican Party and we've seen the light.........

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. kosland2000

    I am so miffed about not being able to contribute to a candidate's campaign. I understand it if you dont live here. I am a Canadian living in the states for the past 9 yrs. I came here legally, have lived here and contributed to this country. I pay taxes. I do everything Im supposed to do, yet cant vote. Talk about taxation without representation! Pathetic! I cant afford the citizenship cost now that the Bush regime has increased it through the roof. I am trying to make ends meet and pay the high cost of health care and taxes. Not a lot left to buy citizenship. So I pay taxes yet have no say in who spends my tax dollars. Now I find out not only can I not vote but I cannot even contribute to a candidate? Sad.

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  22. Setys

    Sarah Palin, where is your medical records?

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  23. Lorne in Boston

    I live in Boston and I pay almost $2,000 per month just for rent. I want to know why someone illegal can live in public housing which takes it away from someone who was born here and deserves to live there.

    The Boston papers have reported that the housing authority was shocked to learn she was illegal. Technically she doesn't qualify for the housing. Maybe Obama and Michelle can put her up in Chicago.

    She is not disabled or a senior (to the best of my knowledge) so this whole thing is disgraceful. How can he allow his aunt to live in a run down apartment in an area of Boston that is unsafe.

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  24. Sarah, Northern Colorado

    This reeks of Bush's 2004 Osama Bin Laden tape.

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. sarah

    I am quite sure that one of my cousins is a criminal (he's a meth addict and shows up with very very nice-looking stuff every once in awhile - too expensive for his minimum-wage job). Does that make me, a happily married, Christian, law-abiding, tax-paying, mother-of-a-teenager, college professor...a criminal too? Are we our aunts' keepers?

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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