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. creed from pennsylvania

    While this is something the Obama campaign should have anticipated and remedied this (given that dirt on a candidate's family will inevitably be discovered) the timing is quite suspicious. Given the duration of the election season, anything 'last-minute' is suspect.

    November 1, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. mike

    Obama will refund $ 265 to his aunt, What about mill.$ he not refund?

    November 1, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. A White Male For Obama

    It is very noticable that the Republicans are back to their smut campaign. My question is why McCain's military records have not been released. Is their something in them that we the people should know about him. In his book he stated fact that he gave away secrets. Then why was he not courtmartialed. Any other person woulld have been courtmartialed and gone to jail and labeled a TRAITOR. I guess when you have money and a family with a reputation it is covered up. God bless America with a President like this. I hope he is not a sleeper cell for the VIET CONG.

    November 1, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Brian Bishop

    Barack Hussein Obama is an illegal alien...

    November 1, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. Vic

    How about these stories for the last eight years?

    Katrina, Economy,Torture, Misleading Iraq war, Republican political appointees in the Justice Department, High Gas prices, The gap between rich and poor is bigger, The national debt is bigger, Foreclosures, Job loss, 9/11, Bin Laden still at large, Go it alone in our foreigh policy, $10 Billion per month in Iraq while Americans can't find work, Our borders still not secure.

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Bridg

    Of course the timing's suspicious! The more desperate the McLame/Failin' campaign becomes, the more stupid dirt about Obama comes out. BTW: Congratulations John, on your Cheney endorsement! The Kiss of Death!

    November 1, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Matt

    Really? This is what's important to America right now? One old lady in Boston is at the top of the domestic agenda?

    This "outing" is simply the icing on the cake, the final proof that the Republican party cares only about power, not for the good of the country.

    November 1, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Pat from Canada

    Hmmm...I smell a rat....An inside job...someone hands seems to be sullied with the convenient release of this news.

    November 1, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. E.Lewis

    Palin tried to steal Alaska and all it's resources from Americans! She tried to break it away from the union with the independance party. She
    doesn't even want to be an
    American!!! Hypocrites!!

    November 1, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. John in Gig Harbor

    This is a non story

    November 1, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Larry

    McCain has 13 cars, 8 houses when his memory serves him right, he thinks it's OK for George Bush to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq including so many of our own .....

    And the best the news media can worry about, is whether some distant Annt of Baracks might be here trying to seek refuge here in the US

    Give me an F-in break

    Grow up America ... if your not ready to vote fore Obama after all we've seen ... you should be deported ... leave his Aunt alone

    November 1, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. this one is for That One

    Hmmm.......looks like CNN has joined the McCain/Palen "dog and pony show"

    November 1, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Cindy

    Oh yea, I'll tell you what is suspicious that Obama didn't know she was illegal. Obama thinks he and his family can live ABOVE the law. Won't be voting for Obama now. Very disappointed with Obama. I watched the video on Youtube "Plot to overthrow." I am pulling out from voting for this guy now. Too many things don't add up.

    November 1, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. really?

    What worries me is the fact that he DID accept the $265 from her in the first place. I wonder how much else he accepted from foreign nationals...

    November 1, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. toby hill

    so what about the "timing"? Obama knew his aunt lived here in the US. Obama knew his aunt traveled here on a temporary status. Obama knowing she was still here had to have known she was illegal. Obama broke campaign finance laws by accepting money from her and he broke the law by failing to report his aunt's illegal status as is required by the oath that he took being sworn in as a Senator.

    November 1, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. W O W WO W

    OBAMA,,,,,,,,,,,DON'T,,,,,,,,,,,,FORGET,,,,,,,,,,ABOUT,,,,,,,,,,,,YOUR,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    KENYAN,,,,,,,,,,,,,HALF,,,,,,,,,,,,,BROTHER,,,,,,,,,,,,WHEN,,,,,,,,,,,,,,YOU,,,,,,,,,,

    SPREAD,,,,,,,,,,,,,THE,,,,,,,,,,,,WEALTH

    November 1, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Jramos

    UNREAL....I remember when Palin was first named VP (big mistake) and then she kept talking about how OBAMA had all his people in AK digging up dirt on her etc. Now we all know that was B.S.!! OBAMA RARELY even talks about Palin. It seems like the MCSAME campaign are the ones going around trying to dig up dirt on OBAMA...no matter how absurd it is. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU ABOUT THESE TWO CANDIDATES McCain & Palin??? AND THEIR CHARACTER??

    SEEMS like they will stoop as low as they can , even lie to win. I don't want people like that leading this country. I'm not worried about terrorists at this point, I'm more worried about those two leading this country!!

    GO OBAMA/BIDEN!

    November 1, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. E.Lewis

    palins preacher says he's worried about witches!! Hey palin, the world is not flat!! And your not the center of the universe!

    November 1, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    So what, that's not the issue. The issue is did Obama know about her illegal status and what would he do about it if he become president.

    November 1, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. GRANNY OF 5

    Does anyone in ther right mind think this was simple by the way...
    The Republicians will stoop to new lows right now. These people are
    truly ruthless. I have never seen such meaness is my entire life.
    I will be so glad when this election is over. McCain and Palin are the most hateful people and I am so sick and tired of it. Why is it that you just can't take failure and deal with it, why do you have to get back at people by lying. It is not Barack Obama's fault for the failure in your campaign. If you had not picked Sara Palin who is the stupidest woman on earth then maybe you wouldn't be playing the game the way you are doing ...Pls Wednesday come fast....

    November 1, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Steve

    It is clear that one group in this election season does not intend to play fair, but what this act prove to me is that such group believes the American people are fools. The question is how can one vote for McCain? He does not understands the economy, he can not plan an operation or execute one, look at his campaign for example.

    November 1, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. spread the wealth

    psst"(whisper}try the "cheat talk express"

    November 1, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Olivia

    this story is strange.
    She donated to the Obama campaign, too?
    I'm not going there.

    November 1, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. soloobama08

    McCain ..HOW LOW WILL YOU GO?

    November 1, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. OMG!

    First off, Obama had a Father that did not give him the time of day as a child/teenager, Obama probalby like many others raised by a one sided Family does not know much about the other side. Obama's Father's family knows Obama exist and vise versa but no one did anything to keep a connection as He was groing up (Out Of Site Out Of Mind). When Obama was not known in His past years was it an issue then about his siblings and relatives on his Fathers side? No. So Why is it an issue now? My Father did not raise me therefore I knew nothing of him or his sisters, but now his sisters are calling apon us to be there for him because He is aging and if you ask me how come the sisters didn't make him be there for us when we were children?

    In My opinion, these are grown folks, Obama is not their parents and should never be accountable for what they do. Obama is a Father to his own children. Leave Obama and his Family alone.

    This McCain/Palin ticket has reached in the toilet and keeps pulling out poop.

    November 1, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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