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. Know your History

    No Suspicious would be how Obama brought his Aunt here 9 years ago. Leaves and then comes back 5 years ago and never leaves. Tries to stay and is legally deported and then somehow gets public housing for years and is not deported.

    I don't care who's Aunt this is or how old they are. She is clearly stealing money and resources for Americans at a time when Americans are facing hardships and are getting evicted left and right and this criminal is using up and taking up space ment for Americans who are struggling.

    Obama has the millions to support her if he wanted and any other relative. But instead he does not know where his family was? How many lies must he tell before you see the truth people.

    November 1, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Jerry

    Remember family is off limits since everyone had such a big deal about Palin family. Let's not do double standards here to win Repubicans. Obama

    November 1, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. Patty-California

    They have had 18 months to come out with this revelation about Senator Obama's aunt. It comes out now, 3 days before the election.....disgusting! Go Obama!

    November 1, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. Aaron from Ohio

    If this is the big October surprise...no wonder Senator McCain is getting his clock cleaned. I was expecting something from the republicans with a little more kick. They've already called Obama a terrorist, that one, an Arab, a Muslim, they've tried to make him seem un-American, a socialist and now for the big punch they say his dad's half-sister over stayed her visa? Ouch.

    November 1, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Kim

    It's not suspicious... it's OBVIOUS.
    And it's not gonna work, doggone it...

    Hope and Change... Obama '08

    November 1, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Lin

    And this is news? Why?

    November 1, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Jim Doyle

    Times of London....hmmmmm...isn't that owned by Rupert Murdoch?

    November 1, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. cathy mcrorie

    why is Obama's aunt one of the top stories on your ticker, rather than Mr Chaney's endorsment of McCain. I had to search for the story on your web site. I am dying to know why he would do that, considering Cafferty's last question why isn't George Bush trying to help McCain on the campaign trail and the response he got from the blogs.
    Please lets have a discussion, preferably in depth, over the next
    3 days.
    My question to Jack why Chaney endorsed Mcain just before election day? was he trying to HELP!!!
    REgards
    Cathy

    November 1, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. LoneWarrior

    Is this the same tactics as the mysterious and famous AQ video that appeared 4 days before the 2004 re-election of GW (ala Karl Rove)? History has a funny way of repeating itself... especially when we don't learn from it. Regardless of the motive behind this allegation, "The ONE" is on cruise control and there is no stopping this train until Nov 5... Go out and Vote for the change we need!

    Go OB2008!

    November 1, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Joan , Ontario

    Maybe this will backfire on the Republicans. A law official should never be able to give personal, private information about a person to the media. If it is OK this time, then none of you are safe from having your personal information made public. If Obama and his aunt are not close and he did not know her status, then how can he be blamed for this anyway? It will be interesting so see how this all works out.

    November 1, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. JWR

    They just don't get it. None of this will work. THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS and Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christmas. It is getting to the point where it is hard to even respect a Republican. I never thought I would be saying that. Its just an election sheesh!!!

    November 1, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Jim Rousch

    Here we go.

    Republicans are going for the race card again.

    If Obama were WHITE, we wouldn't be hearing about this.

    November 1, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Nancy, NY

    Obama's aunt is a criminal-living in Public Housing at taxpayer's expense when she was ordered to leave the country four years ago.

    This is what illegal immigration is all about-ripping off American taxpayers-let's get on this.

    November 1, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Diebold Bandit

    These republicans are such dispicable, low-life characters.

    And some people actually want these nasty, negative people to run this country for another 4 years!!!

    IF -YOU- DO -YOUR -BRAIN -IS- MUSH!!! And I feel sorry for you. What a waste of life!!!!

    November 1, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. indyred

    Suspicious? Naaaah. Who'd ever believe the Repugs would do something like that?

    November 1, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Rich from Pholly

    Why would anyone be suspicious of the Bush-McCain White House? After all, they only outed a CIA agent. But, they did promise to fire anyone involved. Oh, but they forgot to do that. The Justice dept. politicos fired the career U.S. attorneys who would not bend their principles to help the republicans supress the vote. But th Bush-McCain crew got to the bottom of this crime too. Oh wait, they would not surrender inciminating White House Records or testify in front of congress. Why would anyone think that these guys would hand out confidential files, which is illegal.

    November 1, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Palinfatigue

    Looks like someone in the Bush administration leaked the information, with the goal of throwing a last-minute wrench into the Obama's campaign. And someone else confirmed it, with similar motives.

    The goal: MAKE OBAMA LOOK EXOTIC, UNAMERICAN!

    November 1, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Frances

    WHO CARES with millions of people in the US illegally, one more person doesn't and should not raise concerns, it's the totality of it all that's the problem whether it's Mexicans, Cubans, Africans, or Asians, the us HAD THIS PROBLEM LONG BEFORE his aunt that's why we need to elect Obama because he is the only one who will make an honest attempt to fix it.

    November 1, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. MS Redhead

    "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."

    Now, why is Obama returning his Aunt’s $265 donation? Nothing ever stopped him before from accepting illegal donations. Of course, for Obama and his supporters, the END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS, even if it means breaking the law. BTW–When is Obama going to release his list of donors? AFTER THE ELECTION? NEVER? All of you Democrats whine about how low Republicans stoop to get elected, but you Democrats are just as pathetic. Now, don’t forget Alinsky’s philosophy—THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS . . . THE END JUSTIFIES . . . .

    November 1, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. No2RepubGimmicks

    We all know they have tricks up their sleeve.... at this point, though...unless America is REALLY stupid, they will not fall for these games....

    Not suprisingly, John McCain himself has distanced himself from this as he has already damaged his relationship with Latinos by turning into a coward on the immigration issue just to win his party's nomination.

    He's walking a fine line....'should he continue to pander to the hateful white people who dislike anyone who isn't like them or should he further alienate the Latinos who used to respect him'.

    November 1, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Lucy

    Another dirty Republican trick they have pulled out of their bag to change the vote. Sounds strangely like Karl Rowe and the Valarie Plame scandal that was treason for exposing a CIA employee to the Press because her husband had a political disagreement. Without the Republicans in power, when they break the law, they may have to pay the price. They won't be able to get a pardon from the President once the Democrats take over.

    November 1, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Walmart Mom from Canada

    ...and is this intended to implicate Sen Obama in some way ??
    This is downright ridiculous.

    November 1, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Ed

    I was thinking the GOP was getting more and more desperate by the day but it seems they are getting more and more desperate by the hour!

    November 1, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Nat, NYC

    Yes, I'm very-very suspicious about many things Obama said or did in his life. If Obama will become the President, ( hope not), half of Kenya will be illegally living here, we will be prosecuted for anything negative we said or wrote about Obama, his family or his policies: exactly how it was in my native Russia. Doesn't it smell like a socialism?

    November 1, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. fred in webster groves mo.

    as we see from the far right another attempt to discredit the Obama campaign. To cast uncertainty on the best person to happen to the America in a great while. Big O we did not know about her status but we forgive you. Keep moving forward 3 more days and hope will be restored to this Country.

    November 1, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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