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. VRW

    McCain stated that Obama will do anything to win! Really? I think that McCain was taking about himself. Look at everything they have done and said to discredit Obama. There are so many negative things that could have been said about McCain and Palin that are very true such as succession, McCain's real conduct as a POW (dishonorable), his treatment of his first wife and how the Regans felt about him after that. I could go on but I think that you get the point. If this doesn't tell you about the character of the McCain/Palin I don't know what will.

    Obama/Biden all the way!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  2. Martin

    What is suspicious to me is Obama's connections to terrorists, criminals and anti-Americans. I suspect if he wins, his term will be ravaged and plundrered by lawsuits, investigations and possible impeachment. A horrendous time for America indeed.

    November 1, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  3. Barbara Brown

    Too little Too Late McCain/Palin The American people are tired of dirty lowdown politics !!!!! OBAMA O8 all the way!!!!!!!!! You dont want to see him as PRESIDENT but I have newa for you HE WILL BE So Palin you can go back to Alaska. Mrs Hockey Mom!!!! And if the the oponents want to play this game!!! Ask Palin if she knows anything about a Bllack Guy being the father of her daughter's baby!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  4. Allen Lana'i Hawaii

    I have 20 something Aunts and Uncles. I know that ALL of them were born in the US. For someone to say they did not know their Aunt or Uncle was an illegal is just a big lie.

    Vote Mccain/Palin

    November 1, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. Marie,San Diego

    This news will not change my views about Senator Obama. Actually, this will help to open the immigration bill again. I'm sure he will garner sympathy from Hispanics, Asian American and others who probably share the same story.

    VOTE EARLY!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. vjohn-north carolina

    mccain/palin it won't work this time, while you are trying to dig up dirt and dig ditches for our next President Obama; you end up falling into your own holes. thank you sarah for the early Christmas present today, are you just stuck on stupid or are you just STUPID! you need to switch careers because you need to be on comedy central; I have never laughed at anyone as hard as I laughed at you today! sarah try taking a long walk off of a short pier off of that bridge to nowhere you were thinking about building. i'm sure with your imagination you could do it? how about clicking you ruby red slippers 3 times and saying I wanta go home. duh! auntie elm misses you back in Alaska.

    November 1, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. TheRealThing

    I guess every one of us might have a distant relative living in the United Stated illegally since we're all descendant of immigrants; Black, White or Yellow.

    November 1, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. John

    As a last minute "surprise", this is pretty pathetic attempt. If that's the best one can do against Obama, I guess he really is pretty clean. It's only appeal might be to people who were going to vote for McCain anyway. The thing it reminds me of is why it is important to VOTE–so we can get away from the destructive politics that have characterized McCain's campaign and get on the agenda of rebuilding America after 8 years of disastrous Bush administration.

    November 1, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Hey – Mufando.Mazakani,
    The core values of our country lie in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.
    Read both!

    November 1, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. INDEPENDANT VET

    ELLE HOW DID YOU EVER LUCK OUT AND GET YOUR MESSAGE PRINTED . APLAUSE APLAUSE.

    LOOK WHAT NEWS MAX HAS OUT , ABOUT MORE ACORN , AND 11,500 CONTRIBUTIONS WITH A TOTAL OF OVER $33.8 MILLION FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES TO ACORN , FOR OBAMA , GEE GOOD PAY DAY THERE SO ACORN CAN DIG , DIG . AN FAX , AN WHAT ELSE. TAP THE VOTING MACHINES. NEXT PHONE IN, BUS THEM STATE TO STATE , JUST AS DID ON HILLARY.

    TRUSTING OBAMA , IS LIKE TRUSTING YOUR UNDER AGE DAUGHTER WITH BILL CLINTON.

    November 1, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Pamela Rainsong

    The media dug up Joe the Plummer's Delinquent Taxes and Lack of License and Obama's Aunt.

    November 1, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  12. Obamaisnotchange

    His "Aunti" was at his Senate inauguration, and he even wrote about her in his book.

    Suspicious timing? I think what's suspcious is Obama lying, scheming, obfuscating, and running a scheme on America, finally getting called on his ponzi schemes.

    OBAMA IS NOT CHANGE. OBAMA=BUSH

    November 1, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  13. Auntie Auntie

    McCain does not even know how many houses he owns. You think he knows what his aunties are doing? So what? Does it make any difference? Do you need to know and be responsible for what your aunties, uncles, nephews, and all those relatives' action to be a good president? Not too long ago, there was a study that says Obama is related to Bret Pitts, so is Obama also responsible for Brett Pitts acts?

    November 1, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. Lisa

    If the republicans were behind the "leak" regarding Obama's aunt...a special directive regarding deportations would not have been issued. This originated in the British press. All the focus should be on the issue not how it came to light. Sounds alot like the thief that was sorry he got caught, but not for stealing!

    November 1, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  15. mary Kent

    hello to all Americans you see no matter what you say on this election , God is already appoint Barack Obama for President of United State of America.

    November 1, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. obama mama

    This is just so like Palin/McCain......Obama is not responsible for his long lost relatives!! Come on...he's not responsible for them just like John McCain shouldn't be held responsible for all the women he had affairs with while he was married to his first wife....And...was he unfaithful to his first wife who stayed by his side while he was in vietnam so he could marry his current one? Humm......now that might be a story worth exporing at this last minute, hun???

    November 1, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  17. Race is an Issue

    "We interrupt this program to inform you that Obama`s Aunt from Africa is an illegal Alien. Shame on Obama! Smugling his family in illegaly. Can he realy be an american when half of his family isn`t?"

    Come on people, is this a joke or is it the most important election of our lifetime. If all this is true, let the immigration services take care of it. That`s there job to even investigate about that and to take action accordingly. End of story. Give it another shot GOP. Leave family issues out of that one. This time aim closer to the bulls heye.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  18. think about this for a moment

    Is it US Administrations responsibility or is it Obama's responsibility that Obama's Aunt be not allowed to overstay after her application for asylum fails? Is it Obama's job ?

    And Obama would be so dumb that he would knowingly allow this to happen, knowing the problems it would cause for his presidential campaign.

    I know one another asylum seeker, who continues to stay on after her application has been denied. This appears to be a frequent problem.

    Some McCain/Palin Lackeys seem to know for fact that Obama knew. Even if they have not seen any evidence of it. Looks like they have some magical abilities to look into Obama's personal life and documents, which the all media does not.

    November 1, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  19. J.C.

    When Obama becomes president, he can pardon his aunt. He can even invite her to his inauguration.

    November 1, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  20. red rag

    I hope everyone who wants to votes gets to.

    November 1, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  21. Paul Thompson

    Yeah...why would we want to know who Obama is anyways?
    Change and Hope...what more do you need?

    Like P.T. Barnum said...there's one born every minute.

    November 1, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  22. Renee

    Like Obama, my father has a half sister.
    I 've met her twice in my life.

    Who knew that one could be held responsible for knowing the residency status of their elders and distant relatives?!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  23. think about this for a moment

    Is it US Administrations responsibility or is it Obama's responsibility that Obama's Aunt should not have been allowed to stay after her application for asylum failed? Is it Obama's job ?

    And Obama would be so dumb that he would knowingly allow this to happen, knowing the problems it would cause for his presidential campaign.

    I know one another asylum seeker, who continues to stay on after her application has been denied. This appears to be a frequent problem.

    Some McCain/Palin Lackeys seem to know for fact that Obama knew. Even if they have not seen any evidence of it. Looks like they have some magical abilities to look into Obama's personal life and documents, which the rest of media does not.

    November 1, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  24. Will18E

    Since Obama aunt lost her appeal for asylum four years ago, and still resides in the U.S.. Then the issue is not Obama, it's the I.N.S./I.C.E
    Don't criticize Obama because a government agency has not followed though on it's mission.
    Just as John McCain bother made a 911 call to complain about traffic.
    Don't question John McCain, question why the local law enforcement agency has not issued a citation.

    November 1, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. Chris

    So, let me get this straight. Let's say that you found out your father's sister was illegal. What would you do? Call INS? Seriously. Get real.

    November 1, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
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