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. Mugsy

    Who cares? I see my aunts once a year, if that. I'd have no idea if they were illegal immigrants or on welfare. This has nothing to do with Barack Obama's qualifications to be president.

    November 1, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  2. melody from colorado

    I am with Lisa and her comments:

    Why are we to be held responsible for the actions of our relatives, which we our self did not commit, nor advise, nor know or believe in. I am a mother of two, who are in their mid 20's and I used to blame myself while they were growing up for choices they made and directions they took. I taught them right from wrong, good from bad and they still made their choices and yet, this really didnt reflect on me.

    Now this is his aunt, and the republicans put this on the table at the last minute to heat up the race......sorry Mcpalin......its just another grope at the life jacket before you completely sink...!

    November 1, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. Rocket

    Puleeze. Like the American public shouldn't know about it. Gimme a break. If you don't think the "hope" and "change" (whatever that is) people didn't know all about it then they were either incompetent or didn't want anyone to know. Gee. Wonder why. If you believe the Obamaramas were unaware, then I have some swamp land that is suitable for a highrise for sale. Great price too!

    November 1, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. reality

    I was just listening to Shan Hannity, and he was again saying the top 10% pays 70% of taxes. He's a freaking liar!
    What he's not saying is that the top 10% owns 90% of the wealth, and pays only 70%. the people who owns only 10% of the wealth pays 30%.. what a freaking liar he is!.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  5. Shame Shame I Know your name GOP

    Why is Obama's aunt's status his fault? See the GOP talks about individual responsibility except when it comes to Sen. Obama, they want him to take responsibility for everyone he meets! I can't wait for Tuesday.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. reality

    Hannity is a LIAR !!!!

    I was just listening to Shan Hannity, and he was again saying the top 10% pays 70% of taxes. He's a freaking liar!
    What he's not saying is that the top 10% owns 90% of the wealth, and pays only 70%. the people who owns only 10% of the wealth pays 30%.. what a freaking liar he is!.

    November 1, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  7. reality

    I was just listening to Shaun Hannity, and he was again saying the top 10% pays 70% of taxes. He's a freaking liar!
    What he's not saying is that the top 10% owns 90% of the wealth, and pays only 70%. the people who owns only 10% of the wealth pays 30%.. what a freaking liar he is!.

    November 1, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. rl

    doesn't anyone think about mcbush's family owned slaves. do we hold him responsible for this?

    November 1, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  9. Poetic Justice

    Desperate times call for desperate measures! I wonder how on earth Palin can get away with the voodoo performances at her "church", being a member of a successionist radical group, attending 5 colleges for 6 years to get a degree in Journalism, shooting and killing animals from helicopters, having a pregnant daughter, spending 150,000 on clothes, never having her children in school in addition to being a total idiot regarding any form of government and inciting total hatred and racial divisiveness at the Klan meetings she calls rallies and still have people support her and her buddy, McCain?
    I don't care if Obama's aunt is from Mars. I hope we have the intelligence to elect a decent person. Go Obama/Biden!

    November 1, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  10. Georgiagirl

    So old boy is still trying to be dirty. What about his wife slealing drugs from sick babies. Mccain will do anything he can to still the election fromm Obama. This has nothing to do with Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. mary

    McCain would rat on his mom if he thought it would help.

    November 1, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. jules

    Obama wants to spread the wealth. Although he made over 4 million dollars last year he only donated about 3600. to charity. McCain donated about 25% of his income to charity. That is a huge difference. If you check which party actually helps the poor and needy you will find that Republicans consistently donate more money and time, hands down. This is a fact. It's no wonder Obama doesn't know anything about his aunt. He is so wrapped up in himself that he doesn't have a grasp on what is going on anywhere. Obama's tax increases will cause many employers to cut jobs and benefits. Good luck with your future! If Obama wins the presidency you will need it!

    November 1, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. bill

    SO SICK OF CNN. CNN ONLY TELLS POSITIVE CRAP ABOUT OBAMA! Never tells the truth. CNN you have decided for me. I was not going to vote but I am so sick of your Obama crap. I will vote McCain because of all you lies! You did this! Just keep making Obama out to be the good guy when really he is bad for the USA!

    November 1, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  14. irish

    By the way, While the law makers are looking into the security leak with Obama's aunt, have them look into the security leak with Joe the plumber as well. Because we know that it was Obama's croonies that tried to drag a normal everyday citizens down to the ground and completely ruin his character because the guy asked him a question he didn't like and he got caught stating his true intensions.

    November 1, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  15. joan

    These news networks are desperately longing for any October (oh November) surprise for their news feeding. It's not surprising but sick.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  16. Tiffany

    This aunt of Obama clearly was not very close and I truly believe Obama didnot know about his Aunt and this was 4 years ago and I am sure his aunt was not sharing her personal life with Senator Obama. Please Obama is not responsible for everybody in his family behavior this aunt of Obama is an Adult responsible for her own behavior. Please leave Obama alone.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  17. Delharia

    just another item not vetted on this unknown-Axelrodsky is getting defensive
    Very sad in America. I bet I could go on the streets of Boston this evening and find a family on the street waiting for public housing. I would bet everything I could find a homeless veteran there as well.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  18. Al

    Yikes! Call Joe the plumber....I think we have a republican leak! Ooops, that's right, he is now a singer, songwriter and novelist all compliments of the republicans. Hmmmm. Spreading a little republican wealth around, eh? So sad that Sen McCain chooses to end his public service with such dishonor. I heard that there is a really neat house in Alaska that was recently remodeled, maybe they can all retire there while the owner takes a little 'time out'.

    November 1, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  19. Bob

    HEY AMERICA PEOPLE WHO STARTED JAMES TOWN COLONY ARE ILLEGALS...
    >50% AMERICANS ARE DESCENDENTS OF ILLEGALS..
    AMEN....

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  20. Pa-Voter

    Why is this a problem? This country was founded by foreigners. Why now is it an issue if Obama's family are foreigners or even if he is not a natural born citizen. Isn't it about change?

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  21. Dano

    Is this not the beloved Aunt that Obama wrote about in his book as being such a big influence on him? If so, how can he be so distant from her at to not know what continent she's on?

    Anyone think that's odd?

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  22. Jenny

    Who is really suspicious?

    I think it should be Obama. Not anyone else.

    Was Obama really born in US? This is really suspicious too!

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  23. C.W. Walker

    News, not inconsequential garbage! Why do you participate in this foolishness? Are there no more newsworthy events going on today? Some older woman, probably living in poverty, and now she becomes the focus of the media. What was the purpose of reporting on this? Afraid the other networks would scoop you on it? You say that you don't mind criticism, well here it is.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  24. vera

    Are we going to have to wait for Fox news to investigate whether this aunt is registered to vote. None of the media outlets are reporting that yet. She didn't follow the rules for contributing money, why would she follow the rules for voting? What do you want to bet that if they find out that she is registered that it the registration form was filled out through Acorn! She needs to be followed all day on Tues to make sure she doesn't try to vote. She also needs to be deported for making illegal contributions.

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  25. Hot Rod

    ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Republicans will pay for these seeds of hatred .

    November 4th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
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