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. william

    I wonder how much the Republicans paid to leak the information about Obama's Aunt. It is also curious to see how Lou Dobbs keeps talking about Acorn, but not about all the tricks and dishonest schemes the republicans are doing with suppressing voters and putting out phony literature telling Democratic voters to only vote on the 5th, on letter head from that state. And rigging the voters both to change the democratic votes to republicans when you press the button. Why aren't they talking about that. And I believe Rush libaugh is a member of the KKK>

    November 1, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  2. Gloria

    Senator Obama is not responsible for the status of any of his relatives that may be living in the US.

    I voted early but even if I hadn't I would still be voting for Senator Obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  3. russ

    nice to see the diseased minds of the demoRATS posting with such content that McCain, whom wants to give this lady amnesty in the first place, thinks that republicans are up to this. I can only imagine that you (demoRATS) feel ashamed of yourselves for believing in the hope and change B.S. that your moron of a candidate has been spewing. Please leave the country with auntie.

    November 1, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  4. roger, brooklyn, new york

    funny how the kitchen, bedroom and toilet is being slung. RNC, rove, bush, mc nasty and lip stick hockey mom. i wonder those off the above who is without sin cast the first stone. to all dems get out and vote, changed is close, and we need to put the rep clan out off power. as you can see what they will bring. they are running scared i wouldnt be surprise if they lose a nuke and blame obama. and to all obama distractors you got no legs to stand on with your covert tactics. vote on dems landslide to wash the stench away.

    November 1, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. Other People's Money

    why don't the OBAMABOTS just SUBVERT their own ranks and EXPOSE the TRAITOR
    CONFIDENTIALITY WENT OUT THE WINDOW WITH "JOE"

    AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT IS NOT ENTITLED TO PRIVACY OF THEIR STATUS

    November 1, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. troy in phoenix

    the timing of this is suspect and does warrant an investigation. also, whether or not "Joe the Plumber" is a licensed plumber is not confidential information. this is public knowledge as is the case for any licensed profession. if i was going to consider Joe to service my plumbing i would want to know that he is licensed and bonded.

    lastly, if have lots of aunts, uncles in this country and i know nothing about their immigration status. these are individuals that I'm not close to and when I do see them (which is about once in ~5 years) their imigration is not a topic of discussion. frankly, it never crossed my mind.

    November 1, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  7. sam

    Smells like Karl Rove. I just got a BAD whiff!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  8. Jothika

    I know that politics is harsh, but it is stunning that a serious presidential candidate couldn't even take the time out of his campaigning to sponsor his own aunt. It really wouldn't be difficult for him to get her a Green Card, if he were willing to spend a little money for an immigration lawyer. Wow, this really alters my opinion of Obama, and I'm a supporter!

    November 1, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  9. The "In moderation" QUEEN

    I do not for the life of me know why I bother to write.. being posted seems to be for the select few! Well here I go again.. I have an aunt and I have no clue where she is! She has a tendency to take flight to the U.S. on occasion. I have two brothers and a sister for Pete sake I have no idea of where they are either! This is simply a disgraceful, last ditch attempt of the McCain team to try and discredit a good man.I hope John McCain can live with himself when the vote is over. What a sleezeball he turned out to be..honourable? hero? Not so much... as a matter of fact he has sold his sold to the Bush/ Cheney dark side.. how sad is that?

    November 1, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  10. Chris from St. Louis

    It is a very distant relative .... his father's half sister .... how many of us know where our distant relatives like that live, probably a very low percent!

    Not a big deal ..... move on. There are more pressing issues than Obama's distant aunt.

    November 1, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  11. True Democrat from Washington State

    Keep the faith, Senator Obama! Don't worry about this last minute information that the GOP is trying to use against you. I'm sure that the Obamas did not know that their aunt was in this country illegally. Otherwise, they would have tried to help her remain legally in this country!

    Come on guys, do you think that Senator Obama is going to risk anything to not get elected?

    Another way for the GOP to throw anything out or to make a late surprise annoucement.

    Many of us know what's going on. We will not be moved by your tricks and games!

    November 1, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. jane s

    yes-this is a setup. and McCain and Palin have gone beyond all boundaries of decency. as was said during the McCarthy hearingg: "have you no shame ?"". each day they reach a lower point .....and i am greateful that i had the opportunity to vote for barack obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  13. texasgreenacres

    C K The rich have had socialism for years wake up it time for the poor and under privleged to enjoy some of the gov't hand out.the bail out was socialism,politics is socialism or welfare for the rich and famous.so how is socialism so bad? i spent 12 years in the military and that is communism. It appears you never served or you would know.

    November 1, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  14. R, Ohio

    I could careless what the motive or timing was of the person that put this story into the media. This has absolutely nothing to do with my interests, which includes by the way, taxes, the war, health care, etc. I already voted for Obama and I would gladly do it again without a second thought.

    November 1, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  15. RJW

    Obama did not grow up with his father. How is he suppose to know if his father half sister is legal or not. I grew up in the US without my father I don't know all my father sister and ther where about. This campaign is suppose to be about our health care, which half of America can afford, Our Seniors losing their retirement money, now they can't afford to retire. Our Children can't afford to got to college because of high tuitions. Soldiers in needing support when they returne home from the war. Millions of American still losing their home to foreclosures. American if you are better off today than your were 8 years ago vote for McCain. If you are anyone you know have faced any of the issues I mention above you much let your voice be heard and vote for Change, vote for Obama. It's your family future and my family future that is your hand. Remember God is color blind.

    November 1, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  16. Guy

    Do you really think Obama did not know his aunt was in-country? You people are just that stupid I guess. Here's a guy who says what a family man he is and you buy this crap! If you want an eye opening experience read his book, then try and make yourself vote for this clown.

    Good Luck....

    November 1, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  17. x Repub in Ohio

    Obama grew up without his farther. This aunt, who is a half sister of his farther is practically a stranger to him. i know what McCain is trying to do with this. But this is not going to change my mind.

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  18. Obama for Kenya

    Remember when Obama left for Hawaii and told the media, "Well, you have to take care of your family, if you don't how can you take care of the country?" He has done a hell of a job taking care of his family! He has 4 million dollars and his Grandmother in Kenya was recently robbed, his half-brother lives in a metal hut and his illegal great Aunt in government housing. Where is his half-sister and the rest of his large family? He really takes care of them and you think he will treat you any better????????????? Please Wake Up!

    November 1, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  19. student

    what is with this obsession with obama. spread the wealth. if you have been watching the news and speeches you can already see obama lying to the people. first it was prople making under 250,000 would get higher tax cuts in obamas recently televised event (Where did all that money come from oh ya mickey mouse and acorn great
    ) he changed it to people making less then 200,000 and biden recentally said it was only for people making under 150,000 if he is lying before he gets in office think what it will be like if he becomes president. Obama wants to make everyone equal and distribute the wealth. in case you havent noticed communism and socialism never work communist and socialist countries develop slower because there is no incentive to work hard. so obama basically wants to punish people for working hard and making more money. so why try if were going to be punished. he says he will strengthen our nation HOW? lets pull out of iraq wow that shows were a strong nation because we cant finish a job great 9/11 and communism. DONT VOTE OBAMA LOOK AT THE ISSUES DONT VOTE FOR HIM BECAUSE HE SAYS HES A CHANGE HE IS LYING TO YOU VOTE FOR MCCAIN AND EXPIERENCE WE NEED A STRONG LEADER DURING THESE HARD TIMES AND OBAMA CANNOT PROFORM THE TASK WITHOUT FIRST HURTING OUR COUNTRY THROUGH A PAINSTAKING TRIAL AND ERROR PROCESS THAT WE WILL SUFFER THE CONQUENCES OF. DONT VOTE OBAMA

    if you want to talk more blog me back

    November 1, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    This is what the presidential election of America.
    This is the USA.

    November 1, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  21. The "In moderation" QUEEN

    Oh by the way..I am Canadian and tried on NUMEROUS occasions to donate to Obama's campiagn..you must be an American citizen and so I couldn't. How did Obama's auntie manage that? I would have loved to have given a sizable chunk of cash to this great man's campaign.. oops..here I go again into "in moderation" hell. I feel like Alice In wonderland in the rabbits hole.. don't be so unfair in your picking and choosing comments CNN who loves McCain..

    November 1, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  22. Cathy

    This is just another desperate last minute attempt from McCain and Bush to try to link Sen. Obama to something. If this is the best that they could come up with, they should really be ashame. People, Sen. Obama is not responsible for his aunt. Do not be fooled by John McDesperate and Bush!

    I stood in line for 4 hours to vote for Sen. Obama, and I am proud that I did vote for him. He has shown that he is a man with great character and intergrity. He has taken the high road thru out this election, and John McBush has taken the low road thru out this election.

    I can't wait to call Sen. Obama... President Obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  23. RJW

    Obama did not grow up with his father. How is he suppose to know if his father half sister is legal or not. I grew up in the US without my father I don't know all my father sister and their where about. This campaign is suppose to be about our health care, which half of America can afford, Our Seniors losing their retirement money, now they can't afford to retire. Our Children can't afford to got to college because of high tuitions. Soldiers in needing support when they returne home from the war. Millions of American still losing their home to foreclosures. American if you are better off today than your were 8 years ago vote for McCain. If you are anyone you know have faced any of the issues I mention above you much let your voice be heard and vote for Change, vote for Obama. It's your family future and my family future that is your hand. Remember God is color blind.

    November 1, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  24. Maria

    WHERE IS SARAH PALIN MEDICAL RECORDS DO YOU ALL THINK WE HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT THAT. AND WHAT ABOUT HER AND HUSBAND DO NOT WANT TO BE PART OF USA THEY WANTED TO TAKE ALASKA OUT OF THE USA WHAT ABOUT THAT MISS USA WANT TO BE

    November 1, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  25. Horace Manure

    Seriously, how many people here know what their aunts and uncles are really up to at any minute?

    I didn't know my mother wasn't a citizen until I was 26 years old and she was studying for the citizenship test.

    Give me a break. Shows how desperate McCain and the Republicans are. No ideas, No clues. No answers.

    November 1, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
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