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. Bharat Patel

    Hello all americans. John McCain and Palin booth looks real crook. Specially Palin. Don't make mistake to give them victory. You are seing from last 8 years by giving victory to Bush. Most ediat president in history of USA. Palin will not do any thing for this country.

    November 1, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. gt, FL

    TODD PALIN AND THE CONTRACTOR WHO BUILT THE ALASKA ICE GYM EACH BUILT A HOUSE NEXT TO EACH OTHER , SOME SAY USING SUPPLIES FROM THE GYM AND CHARGING THE GOVERNMENT.

    WHEN IS THE MEDIA GOING TO TALK ABOUT THIS?

    November 1, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Charlie Bradley

    I'm glad to see that most of those of us who are more well informed are seeing this for what it is: NOTHING to do with the campaign

    I'm watching the CNN Barack Obama Revealed (I also watched the one about the other one) and everything I learned about Obama only makes me appreciate him more!!

    November 1, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. chris

    COMMON NOW, THE REPUBLICANS ARE VERY SCARED SO THEY ARE READY TO FIND SOMETHING OUT ABOUT OBAMA AND BRING IT OUT AT THIS LAST MINUTE.

    November 1, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  5. what?

    very suspicious!!!!! about more suspicious tham joe the plumbers tax, license, child support, dental, ect.........NOT!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  6. Tom

    Just remember, McCain fans, you are supporting the loser.

    Who in their right mind knowingly supports a loser?

    And what does that make you?

    November 1, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  7. Hall for Obama

    Why don't you tell Obama Half Aunt about her trouble. Obama and I can't do any thing about it. We are to busy fighting off dumb A$$s like you. I guess every illegally person in America is Obama problem. Go get your self a life

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

    Oh, please. This is obviously a Repub trick to get undecideds and weak Obama supporters to turn to McCain. The timing is too close to the election. Not gonna work, see through it.

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

    Who cares. This is no news. Senator Obama will be the 44th president.

    November 1, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  10. Gerry In Toronto

    The US is in two wars, has a collapsing economy and this is a story. Please.......

    November 1, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  11. PoliticoPundit

    Dems are so Suspicious about this leak and furious... Exact samething happened with Joe the plumber when democratic government in Ohio digg everything out for him and leaked to press about his child support, taxes and welfares.. SUch a blind support for democratic party shows how BIASED you are. If you really wanna talk about this be fair at least.

    Don't treat your car as Mercedeez and others as Hyundai.

    November 1, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. Frances Cooper

    Why is it your news media, CNN and others, can find, bring out , and discuss all of this information on Sen. Obama;
    and cannot give the public any information on the A.I.P. (Alaskan Independence Party)?
    Was Sarah Palin involved in the A.I.P.
    Why not discuss this?

    November 1, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  13. Hill Lover

    Barack the "magic" Negro

    November 1, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  14. Hilary

    Before all of you Obama fans get too upset with this story, you might want to look at the source that first broke the story...THE LONDON TIMES. They are having to do the reporting for us since none of your beloved networks will find out anything about your beloved candidate. I can't wait until he is elected and you realize there is no SHAM WOW to him at all. He has you so dumbed down you don't even know how to think for yourselves. Congratulations on giving up your sovereignty.

    God help us all.

    November 1, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  15. Doug in New Mexico

    You bet it is suspicious! And considering the underhanded manner of the republicans is it really surprising? My oh my "what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." Never has so few done so much dirt to so many and still they get away with it. Tisk, Tisk Tisk

    November 1, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  16. Gail

    Homeland Security? What a bunch of BS! The truth is the truth after all.

    November 1, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. mary

    this is very ,very very suspicious .the republicians really went out of their way to find obama aunt.if some one report an illegal person living here ,do youthink that they will follow up on it ? no they will not .so iknow for a fact that the republicians went out of their way to fine this person because she is related to obama.and i know how the immigration screws every up because someone i know is having a problem fo 5 years trying to do things legaly but they screw the paper work constantly.

    November 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. give me a breakgive

    Republicans, give it a rest, when did God say that your party was his party? I am so sick of the RNC sanctimonious posturing. Why is it that your party is blessed by God!! All religions believe that it's belief is the only one!! Not!

    We need to embrace the diversity in all faiths and recognize that each one is supported by humans, not a higher being. Obama and Biden recognize that we are all Americans! Why is it so hard to accept and understand? So, give it a rest right wingers, that you are the chosen ones and that you can speak for America!

    If Obama and Biden wins, the American people have spoken! Move on right wingers to help America.

    November 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  19. Anderson

    It's unfortunate that when we are struggling with an economic tsunami and a cleaner in most European countries are comparatively earning better than a teacher in our country we here discussing the legal status an aunt Obama barely knows. There are a lot of American citizens whose parents entered and are living in this country illegally, does that mean these American citizens can't run for public office in this country ?I think Americans are better and smarter than this.

    Anderson

    November 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  20. tom

    As McCain said before, it is absurd to bring someones family into this (in reference to Brystol Palin and her baby).
    Leave his aunt out of this.

    November 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  21. John from LA

    To-"Shame on You"

    You're argument is absolutely silly!!!-if BO is elected then it is good to "shut a news org. out?"-that my dear is not a democracy.

    Maybe someone in the media-FINALLY did his/her job and wanted to report the news instead of interpreting it???

    November 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  22. CP

    I would sleep much better knowing McCain is our leader. Enough said.

    November 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  23. Susan in NC

    IF indeed is aunt is here illegally, then legal action is appropriate; however, we all know IF it's factual, she is one of about kazillion others. Regardless, that most

    November 1, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  24. Ben Franklin

    Barack Obama, if he is to be our president, will have to explain whatever he can about his Aunt in the simplest and most open manner he can provide. These revelations cannot just be wished away from the public curiosity once they've come out into the open,. If Barack is a wise and reliable man, he'll come forward with acceptable explanations that are based on the facts.

    We want to know that we can have real confidence in the character of our candidates, and yet, we know that we must work within the framework of imperfection to ultimately concede that the real choice is about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Surely, there are few flawless candidates to be found in America, or anywhere else in the world .Indeed, candidates and their families are held up to the most transparent level of scrutiny and ridicule imaginable.

    November 1, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  25. Al

    Its pathetic how low people will go win

    As for the people saying it just shows how little Obama cares about family, do you keep in touch and know every detail about all your family? I suspect most people dont.

    I have aunts, uncles and cousins ive not seen in over 15 years. For all i know they could have all drug dealers.
    I mean the only way i know they are alive is because we send generic Christmas cards to each other every year.

    November 1, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
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