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. Shayna

    Is this really a story? Seriously CNN??

    November 1, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  2. Virginia Democrat

    Roll on Obama!!!
    Obama/Biden all they way to the White House!!!

    McCain...back to one of your 7 houses

    Palin...back to whichever polar ice cap you crawled from

    November 1, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. weneedstrongleadership

    Print my post CNN, it's called freedom of speech.

    McCain's Favorite Casino Lobbyists Lend A Hand After McCain Stacks the Deck in
    Their Favor

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - The Democratic National
    Committee today released a new web video highlighting John McCain's history of
    stacking the deck in favor of his favorite gambling industry lobbyists. The
    video comes on the heels of a new report outlining McCain's pattern of using
    his position as the chairman of a key Senate committee to tip the scales in
    favor of casino lobbyists with connections to his family and campaigns - even
    if it meant reversing long held positions.
    (Logo: here )
    The video, called "Betting on McCain," shows McCain stacking the deck in
    favor of friends and former campaign aides who lobbied for the casinos with
    business before McCain's committee. In return, those casino lobbyists
    organized gambling trips to casinos for McCain (whose reputation as a high
    roller is well known), steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to his
    campaign, and at least 40 of them went to work for or are helping raise money
    for McCain's current campaign.
    Later this week, the DNC will launch new web ads highlighting the "Betting
    on McCain" video that will run on a number of major news sites - including
    political, religious and conservative news sites.
    To see the new DNC Web Video "Betting on McCain," click here:
    here
    DNC Web Video:
    "Betting on McCain"
    here

    MCCAIN: "Well, I am a betting man." [NBC Nightly News, 9/25/08]

    CHYRON: Betting on McCain? Casino Lobbyists Are

    IMAGE: "For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling Industry" [New
    York Times, 9/28/08]
    CHYRON: John McCain Stacked The Deck For His Favorite Lobbyists

    PHOTO AND CHYRON: Scott Reed, Former Aide & Lobbyist

    PHOTO AND CHYRON: Wes Gullett, Lobbyist & Family Friend

    CHYRON: And They Returned The Favor ...

    CHYRON: $400,000 Casino Campaign Fundraisers / PHOTO: Casino [New York
    Times, 9/28/08]
    CHYRON: Gambling With Casino Lobbyists At 2:30AM / PHOTO: McCain Gambling
    [New York Times, 9/28/08]
    CHYRON: Fundraisers with Famous Vegas Tycoons / PHOTO: Sheldon Adelson
    [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/29/08]
    CHYRON: 40 Gambling Lobbyists on the Campaign [New York Times, 9/28/08]

    CLOSING CHYRON: JOHN MCCAIN: Special Interest Driven Politics

    CLOSING CHYRON: JOHN MCCAIN: More of the Same Broken Politics

    November 1, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Jay

    It must be sad for Obama that one of his ideal characters from his fairy tale book turned out to be a real life villain. He knew all about her when it came to using her for his book, but he oddly enough is 'uninformed' when she violates campaign finance laws and due diligence actually uncovers her crime.

    November 1, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  5. Steve in Louisville

    More evidence that the Republicans are the party of hate, war and greed. And they'll do ANYTHING and smear anybody to get elected.

    November 1, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  6. MJ

    Just for your information, the media from London broke this story because the media in the US, like CNN, want to shove it under a rug.

    November 1, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  7. Kabir

    Mcpalin get some thing that works!

    Not a issue........Tell us how you can save this economy........

    November 1, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  8. Jon

    Obama is not responsible for his aunt's actions. Last I checked, he was not her legal guardian. When he returns the rather piffling sum she has sent him, he has done his duty.

    November 1, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  9. joe

    CNN, this is your opportunity to prove that you are journalist first and not in the tank for Obama. See if you can track down a registration form for this aunt and have someone following her all day Tues to see if she tries to vote.

    November 1, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. Uncle Fester

    Truman November 1st, 2008 6:57 pm ET

    I don't care if we're 72 hours from the election, or 3 years from the election. I don't care if it's some no name person, or a relative a presidential candidate. If you are here illegally, you are here illegally. Dems may try to cry foul since this is coming out at the last minute….just like when George Bush's DWI came out 48 hours before the election.

    Truman, Bush was responsible and accountable for his DWI. Obama is not responsible for the behaviour of his relatives. I know that is hard for a wing nut to understand

    November 1, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  11. NewWorldOrder

    Who cares! It is an Aunt he doesn't even converse with from his families other side.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  12. Jon (Ottawa, ON)

    To Mr. Muzakani:

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Frankly, it sounds as if you are raving.

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

    By now we all know that Obama will win!! We can celebrate the downfall of American values with the nomination of this extremely liberal person. So for those who insist on being ill informed or choses to turn your backs on the vision of the founding fathers, God Bless You!!! Hope you are as outspoken a year from now when you are experiencing the total annihilation of values, morals and ethics. The word change has so many variables; for all our sakes I pray that the God I serve will be merciful and not judge us according to our new leaders. We are all so gong ho about demeaning Gov. Palin and seeking her medical records when right before us, there is a campaign ahead to destroy our moral society or what's left of it. But continue to vote with you pocketbooks, we need to focus on storying your treasures in heaven; May God bless us all!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  14. Judy

    Isn't it obvious that someone with Obama's intelligence nd pllitical savy would have done what he could to help this aunt out of her problems had he known. If Obama was not running such an honorable campaign, there would be plenty he could have brought up about McCain and Palin. The McCain's only comment when asked about his cheating with her while still living with his first wife, is to say what a good marriage they have. So what! The louse still cheated with the rich bimbo. Also, since when does being a prisoner of war qualify one to be commander in chief. McCain is a dumb, desperate old man who picked an idiot to be his veep candidate. Watch out, Cindy, Sarah is just another dumb bimbo and if John cheated once, he will probably do it again (if he hasn't already). Oh, I also would like to see the hospital records that prove that Trey really is your son and not your grandson. Finally, as a mother and grandmother myself, please stop dragging that poor little baby all over the country – that is so not healthy for the poor little guy.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  15. Ron

    What does this have to do with people losing their homes, jobs and 401K's? Those are the issues we need to consider when voting on Tuesday. Not if someones aunt is here illegally.

    November 1, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  16. Daniel

    AS AN UNDECIDED VOTER I REALLY DON'T GIVE A DAMM WHO WINS THE ELECTIONS AT THIS TIME JUST GET IT OVER AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE DAMM ECONOMY,

    AND FOR ALL YOU LOSERS DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS
    GET A DAMM LIFE AND QUIT TALKING AND THROWING MUD AT THOSE TWO ( LOSERS) OBAMA AND MCCAIN THE LESERS OF TWO EVILS.

    November 1, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. Wakeup!

    Joke, absolute joke!

    Obama/Biden '08

    November 1, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  18. whysoblind

    Hillbuzz.wordpress.com check it out

    November 1, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  19. Hope

    Who Cares at this point.. whats sad is how people take stories like this and blow them up. Personally I feel if she is here Obama is doing the right thing by having her be dealt with like anyone else who is here illegally. All this noise about Obama being wrong about this and that.. If he didnt know he didnt know. Let the woman be sent back home and thats that. With the election being 3 days away there is nothing else I need to hear about except who won. Lets leave the Kindergarten comments back in Kindergarten.

    November 1, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  20. Butch Dillon

    If the election did not involve Republicans, it would not be as ugly as it has gotten lately. Surely, no one could even suspect the leak of these deportation records to be coincidental as long as the Republicans are campaigning and apparently losing.

    November 1, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  21. RACHEL

    Well, since the "Obama is not a US citizen" farce didn't work, they are now going after his aunt. Just keep throwing that krap around, maybe some will stick.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  22. Joe Bless

    Bush and Cheney are still in office for crying out. They have solid track record in leaks. Say hello to Libby and Rove.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. rob

    With all the money that 'O' got from overseas for his campaign, maybe he should send some to his poor relatives.

    btw...aren't undisclosed, or disclosed for that matter, from other countries to a candidate illegal? If this guy wins, the courts are going to have a field day with him!

    November 1, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. nicole

    Want to discuss relatives? Sarah Palin's own mother-in-law stated that she wasn't sure if she'd be voting for her daughter-in-law's ticket becasue, 'I don't know what she brings to the table.' John McCain's sister-in-law and nephew-in-law both stated that they would not be voting for him. That speaks to me as a voter more so than Obama's aunt being here illegally.

    November 1, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. Laura, Boston

    Hey all

    John McCain actually had nothing to do with this. His campaign isn't touching it; however, I don't see that they shouldn't.

    Obama is a lawyer and had his aunt present at his swearing in in 2005 and yet he lets her live in housing that is designed for poor American families. Believe me it is not a safe area of Boston but some people who were born and raised here who have lost their homes find themselves homeless.

    She needs to go back to Kenya. I'm sure she is a lovely lady but unless Obama wants to hire her as a nanny for his children then she is as illegal as a Mexican farm worker coming into the country to try and make a living. She is living off the Boston taxpayer by accepting low income housing. That is wrong.

    You can blame McCain but the AP reported this article and the Boston papers came out with it. Fox News has had it on for weeks. It is the MSM that won't do or say anything about it.

    November 1, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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