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. Creativeogre

    In light of the case (Berg vs. Obama) that is now on the Supreme Court Docket. If proven to be true (and it certainly looks that way) Obama may be on the same deportation plane as his Aunt.

    November 1, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  2. Ginny from CO

    Unbelievable that Obama actually denies knowing that his aunt is illegal and living in poverty!! This is just another example of what a liar, crook, fraud, etc. etc. etc. Obama is. How much more has to come out for Americans supporting him to "GET IT" and realize what he's all about?? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out! He is bad news and we are in a world of hurt if he gets elected!!

    November 1, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    I don't know all of my extended family members very well. Some of them I don't know very well at all. You can't put any blame on Obama for his aunt, especially from the Kenyan side that he isn't as close with, or at lesat it seems like they aren't... he's visited Kenya, but I mean really.

    This is just ridiculous.

    November 1, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  4. auntieang69

    Even if he had an aunt that is here illegally, I can quite understand he might not have known her legal status, I have many aunts & uncles, I don't see them often, as apparently Obama stated he didn't have frequent contact with her, do you think she was going to call him up and say, oh, by the way, you do realize that I am not a Legal resident. Besides, are the Republicans RUSHING out to get those 12 MILLIONS ILLEGALS OUT! I didn't think so. And I can bet that Everyone on this Site knows at least One Illegal Immigrant, and they don't say a word to anyone about it, no calls to get them out, otherwise, we wouldn't have 12 MILLIONS ILLEGALS,, RIGHT!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. Smeryl62

    Dear God, if I had to track each and every one of my relatives to make sure that they were legal, I would be unemployed. I am in my mid 40's and still meeting relatives on my fathers side. Had been in church with one for 11 years and never knew we were related. He is so not responsible for his relatives from Africa being her illegally. If you noticed she hadn't contacted him because she knew he would tell her to get back to her legal country. He is not closely linked to his African family because he spent his life with his maternal family. Give back Auntie's money, and put her on a plane. End of story!

    November 1, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  6. Tetons

    Of course! Obama can do no wrong, his people can spin better than anyone. Obama's a fake and will take this country into Chavez territory.
    Just look what happened to Joe the Plumer, and the Orlando news anchor after they had the gull to question the great one and his side kick. The party of hypocrits will ruin this nation, it will take an act of GOD to get it back on track.

    November 1, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. shameful US media

    It's shameful that it took the London news media to break the 'aunt' story to begin with... of course, the US media didn't find it – they are either too lazy or too protective of their 'chosen one'. The LA newspaper should be shut down for keeping vital info (the Khalidi tape) from the American public on the eve of us having to decide on the candidates in this election. Since when did we start living in a country where our news is censored??????

    November 1, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  8. nerakami

    The nasty, disgusting, despicable methods used by the Republican party is in no way worthy tp participate in running this country. America deserve better, we all deserve better than to be subjected to this negative crap... ENOUGH !

    November 1, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. Barack Mays?

    Willie Mays opened a bottle of Champagne, before the Giants won the wold series. BTW, the Giants lost.
    Palin is being treated worse than Dan Quayle. Oh yeah, Quayle won.
    Many think, watching Obama in recent days, that this ones over and they can stay home, not vote and he'll still win.
    When it comes time to be in that state of solace in the voting booth, when we really examine ourselves, many won't be able to actually pull the lever for Obama.

    November 1, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. Franky

    Also, one last thing guys...

    Send my condolences to Senator Dick Durbin and his family. He's been a Democrat here in Illinois and pretty popular. Of course, the Dems are not my favorite party but he is pretty popular. I just wanna send my condolences to him and his family...

    God always has a plan Senator Durbin, God always has a plan.

    God bless you and your family.

    November 1, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  11. not so

    Get real! I have an aunt and uncle that live less than 100 miles from me. I haven't seen them or talked to them in over 30 years.

    Am I supposed to know what they do, or even more, who they really are? Didn't think so.

    November 1, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Toni Michelle

    I don't know all of my extended family members very well. Some of them I don't know very well at all. You can't put any blame on Obama for his aunt, especially from the Kenyan side that he isn't as close with, or at least it seems like they aren't... he's visited Kenya, but I mean really.

    This is just ridiculous.

    Especially considering that "family is off limits"...

    November 1, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  13. Florida Independant for Obama

    Hmmmmmm........ I wonder if I will be put into Mediation again until this closes? Oh Well I will try anyway. I hope come election day that America sends a clear message to McCain/Palin that we are tired of idiots running our country! It is time that someone that is "Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" be the President of The United States of America! I wonder if thier is an I.Q. requirement to run for President?

    November 1, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  14. Eli

    You know folks,no matter WHO gets in office we will be in for a long haul.Both sides are wrong and guilty of mud slinging.What we need to do is hope that we will all be OK.I for one am ready for a new day free of all this.

    November 1, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  15. jschmidt

    By all means let's investigate how the story broke not how much did obama know and when did we know it. Because we Dear leader would never do anything illegal or knowingly aid his aunt to be illegally in this country and to live in a public housing project paid with government funds. We know in the liberal world the rules don;t apply to Obama or his relatives. They only apply to Republicans. The press is a joke since it took a foreign newspaper the Times of London to break this story. A good example of Obama not being vetted by the US press which has aided and abetted the Obama campaign from the beginning.

    November 1, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. Jon

    To "what about Joe?":

    Joe the Plumber isn't running for President. Moreover, his release isn't timed three days before the general election.

    November 1, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. Jason

    I dont think it is suspicious at all about his aunt. It something that should be told and it just shows where this country is headed if this Obama guy whom is an absolute idiot gets into office. If you vote for Obama then I think you need to check yourself into an institution to get some help. He is wrong any which way you look at him. He is a bold face liar about what he says he is going to do for this country. It is a shame he can lie to all our American faces. He is a disgrace!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. lee

    A lie is a Lie . Obama said his aunt came here on tourist visa for his Senate ceremony in 2004. In the same release it is stated that Obama saw her 2 years ago and have not seen her since which means 2006

    Ok you mean to tell me Obama did not ask her 2 years ago how come she was still in US .? That is the first question we ask even from strangers who stay here longer than 6 months.

    Obama has lied constantly as listed below :
    1- Lied about campaign funds
    2- Lied about troop withdrawal . first it was 60 days now it is 16 months
    3- Taxes . First it was $250k, then $200K, then $150K and now $125K.
    4- Police man is stationed at his aunt's house to prevent reporters to get in . Was a police man stationed at Joe The Plumber's house . No, instead Obama people pulled Joe's confidential records out and
    trashed Joe all they could .

    Obama has lied to get votes . Those who voted early thinking tax increase would start at $250k now are stuck as they can not change their vote while the tax ceiling is dropping like a rocket . He is a fraud and does not know how to run any thing

    November 1, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  19. oldschool

    If she's here and you know where she stays, why hasn't she been deported? What do want us to do, she's one of millions

    November 1, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. Jane

    Obama camp always complains when something is found out about him. This should have been out a long time ago. I have a feeling we are going to find out a lot of things we do not like if he is elected, The liberal media is so afraid of him, they will not report the truth.

    November 1, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  21. Bill_ MA

    Is our country better off now than in 2000? Republicans have ruined our country. Lie to yourself if you wish, but this bush presidency has been the worst in the last century. Republicans should hang their heads in shame. You are a pathetic bunch of losers.

    November 1, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  22. Charles

    This in no way has anything to do with Senator Obamas campaign. Smells like a sneaky McCain/Republican Party move, showing their lowliness. If I were Senator Obama, when he gets the "congratulations" phone call from McCain Tuesday night, I wouldn't even answer. But knowing how decent a man Obama is, he'll tactfully thank him for the call.

    November 1, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  23. Brady

    Who cares? Is it really relevant that Obama's aunt might be an illegal alien? Is it really relevant that the timing of this might be "suspicious"?

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

    He doesn't control his Aunt's actions. What she did is out of his hands. He said he didn't know her residency status and I believe him. It has no affect on him or his campaign. Is this your october surprise? PATHETIC!!!!! Try again McCain. It's too late. You and your pathetic running mate might as well pack it now. The party is over!
    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    November 1, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  25. Fadelff

    This is a ridiculous non-issue-how about this...let's worry about issues for once...

    And yes, how suspicious that this should come out now....

    I understand that the leak is maybe even illegal...

    November 1, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
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