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. veteran for obama

    let's not forget the criminal john mccain is married to.... stealing drugs from a charity to feed your habit would get you five years easy if you were a minority.

    November 1, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  2. Ryan

    Many have aunts, uncles, cousins, or even sibblings they know little about or keep few tabs on. This is really stupid.

    November 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  3. maynard hopkins wi

    what about returning all the donations from overseas..THEY ARE NOT US CITIZENS EITHER....But you will keep those donations.

    Why are you now becoming a person who wants to do right....
    you have lied twisted the facts and have not leveled with the voters.
    this is just anouther ploy by you a crooked politition to get elected and you will do anything even lie about your birth certificate.

    you got your opponents kicked off the ballot in illinois so you would not have be prove that you did not know anything.

    November 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  4. gt, FL

    I have relatives in America that I don't even know when they came to USA.

    WE MAY BE RELATED, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE LIVE TOGETHER OR THAT I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN LIFE.

    November 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Kris K in CA

    Don't worry. Palin just talked on tape to a phony French Presdient that tricked her. She is done. It is worse than Dean's scream, or anything any candidate has done. It will be front page news all Day Sunday. no one will be talking about the aunt. Blieve me. They won't.

    November 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. Nicolas

    This is nonsense. The problems this country and world is facing should be the focus right now. America the world is watching you and awaiting for you the continue leading. You have been doing this since World War Two. You have lost your way. Don't let another leader be selected.

    November 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  7. GrogInOhio

    An illegal immigrant aunt? Yeah... that will have an enormous impact on a staggering economy, an upside tax structure, 2 wars with no end in sight and presidential endorsement of torture.

    Are Republicans running low on issues? What utter nonsense.

    80 days till the end of the Bush administration.

    November 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  8. Mick

    Let's keep in mind:

    Obama met his dad once, for one month. This woman is the half-sister of a man Obama hardly knows. How about we focus on the issues.

    I have Aunts too. I have no idea what they are up to, and their actions should not reflect on my character.

    Let's keep our eye on the ball here.

    November 1, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  9. Adele, Brooklyn

    Since we are pulling out all the stops, why isnt' anyone talking about what john mccain did in his first marriage. (so much for family values)

    November 1, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  10. Setys

    You that call yourself Cheney lover, you are such a fool and uneducated. Very dumb.

    November 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. indy chris

    There is no way to verify this story.

    I wonder, is Obama's auntie a drug addict who stole drugs from her own charity?

    November 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  12. serah

    Obama may not be aware of the fact that his Aunt is here illegally because he has been extremely busy and also he did not participate in her coming over to the USA and may not even know how she got here. I think what people should consider is she was not and has not been residing at the Obama house in chicago and Obama has not been financially supporting her stay here while knowing she is here illegaly. Come on guys she is independent doing her best to survive in that status. Even the housing agents did not know earlier on she is related to Obama. You know even if McCain wins the election, I am sorry to say it will push the US image in the world further into a miasma of defeat. Not because Obama has the charms to reinstate the image of US but because McCain decided THE END TO JUSTIFY THE MEANS AND CHOSE A LOW ROAD TO A HIGH OFFICE. THIS IS THE IMAGE THE ENTIRE WORLD HAS ON THE USA, DO YOUR RESEARCH. THE WORLD FEELS USA USES FORCE MORE THAN DIPLOMACY AND RUNS THE WORLD ISSUES TYPICALLY THE WAY McCAIN HAS RUN HIS POLIDTICAL CAMPAIGN. I wish even if he wins the election he does so honorably so the NATO allies respect his ideas and not correlate the USA foreign policy to how McCain run his political campaign against Obama. Wining is a good thing success is sweet but if only you do it right. Then you get the credibility and respect. This is like Mugabe of Zimbabwe, THE TEAR ONE DOWN ON YOUR WAY UP POLITICS. Both parties need to work together for the common good.

    November 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  13. chester

    Someone tell Axelrod Obama knew his aunt was living as a illegal in Boston. He does not care about family, he also has a brother earning 1.00 a month in Kenya but will not help him either. Funny how Obama wants to spread the wealth of Americans money but will not spare a dime for his own family. Simply amazing and pathetic!!! Won't spread his wealth, can't take care of family, won't take care of the country. McCain, the only experienced true leader and man qualified to be president this election, by a huge margin. Vote for the HERO, not the zero.

    November 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  14. Sarah Smith

    McGeriatric

    & his tomb raider attack (female dog)

    dispensing the low blows

    nothing 'gentlemanly' Geneva Convention here.

    Gov. of Alaska doesn't know what that means

    nor does IT care

    November 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  15. Mir

    Funny that CNN hasn't been able to independently verify Auntie Zetiuni's status, like that's important to you now. CNN has never bothered to indepedently identify 95% of Obama's claims and has until now taken his word...thanks now for trying to look balanced.
    mcCain/Palin

    November 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  16. Dianne

    Who cares...this should not be an issue.

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  17. Brain in DC

    Any mud left? Couldn't opponents find something significant? What happened to Karl Rove's creativity??

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  18. outsider

    Typical republican trick. Throw dirt when desperate. How can you trust those people to lead?

    When I live 99% signs for McCain. I just get lost. What kind water do these people drink? There is something wrong. If this trend continue, the country is going to suffer longer. Voters are responsible for their sufferings too. Do not just blame the ones in office.

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  19. Jenny

    It seems supicious to me. Of course McCain supporters would make a big deal out of Obama not knowing about it.

    He barely knew the woman. She is the sister to the father who abandoned him.

    At his point, I think the GOP will pounce on anything to make Obama look bad.

    It won't work with me!

    Go Obama!

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  20. Carlos (Virginia)

    This type of junk is why Virginia will be going for Obama in three days.

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  21. ozzy's Mom

    You would never know this is a presidential election. John McCain is acting like a preschooler with his attacks. He has not been able to communicate any ideas.

    Ben Stein and Ann Coulter both said the other night that we are already part of a socialistic society and who cares whether Obama's Aunt is illegal or not.

    Obama has taken the high road on all the crap that McCain has been sending his way. I have to say I hope he releases some of the dirt on McCain. Obama was the one that said leave Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter out of the election. Why can't McCain do the same thing?
    I don't want a President that is so petty and hot headed.

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  22. AUC

    Get a freaking life!!!! This is NO STORY but, a sorry attempt to distract and try to smear Obama. John McCain, you and your people should be ashamed of yourselves. You will reap what you sow, God said it and I believe it. And after the American people VOTE, you will too!!

    You really make me sick!!!!!!!

    Obama/Biden 08/12

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. proud army navy mom

    of course mcsenile's friend, george w set this up. This is the last payment in the deal that mccain made with him to try and win the election. No surprise.

    But what is surprising is all the dumb people that truly believe that electing Mccain/palin is good for the country. They are the most evil and inept people to ever run for office. Palin is stunningly stupid and mcain issenile. What's motivates anyone to vote them?

    November 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  24. The Manchurian candidate

    Suspicious or criminal? I smell a dirty rat!. A new low.

    November 1, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  25. Mir

    Silly season is vetting Joe the plumber. It's not silly season to find out info about Obama's family, considering Obama touts himself as his brother's keeper.

    November 1, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
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