November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
6 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. E.Lewis

    republicans are tools of Satan!! All the hate, lies and ignorance they spread only makes his job easier! Republicans are false Christians!

    November 1, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. THE LOW ROAD

    WHO CARES? Why is this an issue??? Really? Please tell us. Someone report on why this is an issue 3 days before the election. I really want to know!!

    November 1, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. Shamaedene

    I think its sad that this is an issue in the most important elections of modern history.
    Should Obama say to his Aunt 'Where are you? How is your immigration status?' Is that really appropriate?
    I for one would be more concerned if he used his position to get her to remain in the country. Like Palin used her position to influence her brother-in-laws firing.
    Come on people.

    November 1, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Shirley

    Desperate John McCain only has smear tactics left. He has sunk lower than I could ever imagine & as a former McCain supporter I am disgusted. I am voting for Obama!

    November 1, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. The World for Obama

    Who cares ... this is no reflection of Barack.

    November 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. adrian

    it is very suspicious. how is this even news? who cares?? is this your lame attempt to smear obama? how about reporting sarah and todd palins ties to the alaskan idependence party?? why is that not news worthy? how about reporting that sarah palin has yet another ethics complaint filed against her for charging alaska to fly her kids all over the state?? how about reporting mccains ties to gordon liddy?? what happened to no bias no bull?? i know what it is. youre one of the major corporations that stands to get a huge tax break if mccain is elected, therefore youre doing everythig you can to help mccain. shame on you.

    November 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Nick

    "CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status."

    Am I to understand that my most trusted name in news is running a story and taking it straight to the top of the Obama campaign without even confirming its validity? Did you hire Matt Drudge?

    November 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. Boomer

    The republicans will try anything! Caribou Barbie, the plumber who isn't a plumber, and now this. Pathetic!

    November 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. CNN

    this is not a story any more then palin getting her house fixed up with tax payers money in alaska. obama cannot control every relative he has. Why dont these highly paid so-called journalist find some real stories to report on?

    November 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. johnrj08

    Suspicious but inconsequential. The last spasm of bitterness being hurled by a desperate, out-of-touch political party that is in the process of self-destruction.

    November 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Zach

    Suspicious or not, I really don't care. This is the half-sister of Obama's estranged father – so it has zero bearing on the way I'm voting.

    November 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. ran

    What can you say people? If you have not voted yet make sure you do Nov.4 Tuesday. Obama/Biden need all the votes they can get because the Republicans are going to do all they can to get votes thrown out. So if we vote in such #'s that there can be no doubt who won then we will not allow a Republican leaning Supreme Court decide this election.

    Vote.

    November 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. neville

    old dirty republican tacticz not this time.change will finally come OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    November 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Threesons

    With that said, I don't think Sen. Obama is obligated to aid in the comfort of an aging Aunt who wasn't involved in his upbringing, education and welfare. An adult family member of any person who appears on scene after the fact is as much a stranger an any other stranger. That's why ppl who win the lottery accept their winnings annonymously. Family mbrs have a habit of declaring their blood rights to a popular or wealthy cousin for financial gain and status. This revelation should not change opinions of Americans. We all have destitute family mbrs that we will not recognize for one reason or another. Why should Sen. Obama be held to a higher standard than that of ourselves?

    November 1, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. M. C.

    Palin makes pitch to seniors in central Florida

    After reading all the HATE mail on Sarah Palin-you ALL make me SICK! Get your heads out of the sand, and really find out what B. Hussein O. is planning for 'His Change for You.' Scary Stuff!!!!

    November 1, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. E.Lewis

    Sarah palin bin laden is a Muslim terrorist!! Obama08'

    November 1, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Joseph Adewole

    AMERICA WE HAIL THEE.
    Just trying everything to stop this young, intelligent, educated, humble and charismatic young man from bringing much needed peace and security to America?
    Republicans cannot give America peace, their policies are causing Americans sleepless nights and have peace and security, you are bringing something irrelivant.......I now believe that people gain from terrorism otherwise Barack should now be opposed at all; he is the only one and his Party that can give Americans much needed PEACE..........The world is watching!!!

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Larry

    Of course it is suspicious And what does this have to do with Obama? Oh, he is responsible for the actions of everyone in his family and everyone he has met in his life. Give me a break. Why don't you try to find out who leak this information.

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. I AM US!

    I can understand why Obama has not gone personal, that would make this election even more devisional that it already appears.
    Change vs The Same
    Mr. McCain the world is watching, and what will you do to unite us if you do win? I know obama wants too. I Am US.

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. Joseph Adewole

    AMERICA WE HAIL THEE.
    Just trying everything to stop this young, intelligent, educated, humble and charismatic young man from bringing much needed peace and security to America?
    Republicans cannot give America peace, their policies are causing Americans sleepless nights and have peace and security, you are bringing something irrelivant.......I now believe that people gain from terrorism otherwise Barack should not be opposed at all; he is the only one and his Party that can give Americans much needed PEACE..........The world is watching!!!

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Axel

    Can somebody confirm/disprove? This is from another user post on CNN ticker

    >Like Joe the Plumber ???
    >How many ordinary Patriotric Americans , have convictions
    >For Domestic Violence , in front of Children
    >Wurzelbacher , Joseph Docket # DVA0400222.
    >Or 2 Divorces involving Battered Shelters – Domestic Abuse.
    >Jennifer – 1997 -Docket # DR 19970476
    >& Kimberley – Divorce 2007 – Had to seek shelter -Battered Home.

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. grant

    So what, I suppose this is Obama's fault. NOT.

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. Kingsley McKenzie

    As Obama has said "power concedes nothing". I am sure that the republicans will throw all they can muster at him in the last hours before the election.

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. Harry

    It seems that the McCain campaign is built on mendacity and irrelevant information that has no bearing on the real and serious issues facing the Americans. People must be smart enough to vote on the real issues and who will provide strong and intelligent leadership that one can be proud of. McCain's leadership will be as erratic as his campaign -lacking in wisdom and good judgment – a leopard never changes his spots! Clearly, Obama presents a strong and intelligent choice.

    November 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. adg

    I have Aunts that I havnt spoke to since my father died, they live far away from me and they are not my responsabitly, nor am I thiers. I think that Mccain campain found this out along time ago and held back untill now to try to smear Obama ounce agian, If they were realy concerned about her being in our country with out permision they should have done somthing about it the minute they found out , and not wait to start trouble for Obama this close the the election day, this just shows what creeps they truly are. Im sick of Mccain and Palin caring more about stuff like this than telling the truth about what they realy plan on doing , which is more of the same bush politics from the last 8 years, Palin has no clue about what a vp is what the 1st admendment is and I figure she probly doesnt even know what our laws of imagrants are. she is a bad choice for this country and I will never see her as a good chioce not now not ever!!!

    November 1, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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