November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama aide: Timing of news about his aunt 'suspicious'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. randy

    i cant agree more the want to use it as there own october surprise but well amercian people are saying that it is too late we all voting obama come nov 4.

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. Darrell

    You are a DP.If you really want something to chew on that actually counts in the election wait for Palins trial on how she broke all the ethics laws in the Alaskan Pipeline Project.It make no difference to anyone in the world what is going on with Obamas aunt.If you think this is the October surprise then you are a DP.How about putting your paranoia aside and take a look at the real issues and the truth. I understand that may be hard if you have already been brainwashed by Sarah the cult leader of hate,fear, and lies.

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  3. vote! OBAMA-BIDEN NOV.4th

    i think mccain and palin must have sold their souls to the devil, it's hard to believe this much EVIL could come from a true american, VOTE OBAMA-BIDEN

    November 1, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Jimmy in Georgia

    As McCain has said. If there was any stories that came out about him or Palin meeting with the wrong people. The story would be big as life and would hurt him. It is not bad, shamefull or even low to show how someone is. Before you elect someone to be in charge of your country. You should look into everything. He is in charge of the military which is the best in the world. The person who is elected should have a background check done and if anything is wrong at all in his family or friends. He should be thrown out being elected. I do not want someone telling me what he is going to do when I do not trust him. And right now I do not trust Obama. Quit double talking and tell the truth and please. Stop trying to sound like your preacher.

    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  5. in Oregon

    This is news? I tell you, I have cousins who are drug addicts, boozy divorced aunts, and a sibling who defaulted on student loan payments. Does that make me a bad person? Does it reflect poorly on my character that I can't control my relatives?


    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. GeorgiaPeachforObama

    Being someone who doesn't know where half her relatives are, this doesn't surprise me. I believe Obama because he's anything but stupid and if he knew this was out there, it would have been taken care of a long time ago.

    This is just more smearing from the Republicans.

    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. Obama not helping his family

    Obama is guilty of the following
    1. Accepting illegal campaign contributions-the Aunt's contributions are small compared to the millions that I am sure are out there.
    2.Not helping his own family-Is he going to tell us next that he did not know she lived in government housing paid for with OUR tax dollars?
    3. Lying-There is NO way he did not know she was an illegal imigrant or he would have mentioned her and probably had her on the campaign trail. He has been hiding her hoping no one would find her
    4. The media-THEY are guilty of not doing there job-yes CNN included- this should have been found months ago.
    5. Shifting the blame-If he gets elected I am sure that is all Obama will do because he will take our country into ruin.

    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  8. Raymond J

    Mc Cain and his henchmen should be excluded from voting with all these dirty deals.
    We should follow Canada's voting methods. They have Elections Canada that oversee the whole election and they have the last says.
    Every province has the same rules and voter lists are made up by payed federal employee's.
    They have media blackouts and crap like you see in the last couple of days before the elections can lead to prosicutions.
    Oh I forgot, we show the rest of the world how its done and we are perfect.

    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. Don of Wisconsin

    Dear Peter; welcome to "the club".

    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. Greg in Denver

    Big deal.

    November 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Imadnax

    WAIT a min here
    You CNN are saying you Can NOT independently verify the aunt's immigration status.
    by that statement could suggest that she is Not illegal .
    The Real Qustion is why has NO Goverment Dept FAILLED to remove her from USA soil in 4 years if infact she is illegal????

    November 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. Delegate from California

    I think we have mor eimpostant things to worry about, like the Economy, Healthcare, Energy Crisis, Marriage Equality than this.
    Republicans need to get over it and realize that they mess up this country for all of us and is time for Change and to get America back on her feet.

    Delegate for Senator Clinton from CA
    Obama / Biden supporter

    November 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. Yessica

    Well, blame the US elite media for not getting to this info sooner. It was a U.K. journalist that did their job and uncovered this information Most of the US stream Media spent 9 Million following precious around; yet failed to do the investigative work/vetting of Obama. A very sad time in America.

    November 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. Lorna

    "dp" -- you are right – we don't know "half of what Obama stands for" but one thing for sure - WE KNOW WHO MCCAIN STANDS FOR - HIMSELF!!!!!!!! I'm taking my chances with someone that "maybe" we'll have a prayer with - with McCain, its all said and done already. Republicans have had their shot - any chance is better than NONE.

    November 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Jan

    To Dave,

    We haven't seen Obama's medical record either.

    How can we trust Obama to be president, when half of the time he is lying about his life

    November 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. connie the caretaker from ohio

    how low can someone go.joe the plummer was a plant im sure.he didnt even pay his taxes. and what would mccain know about losing a home he has 7. and i know first hand he hasnt done a thing for our troops! They come home with all kinds of problems and are pushed aside. If he and Palin win Im moving to another country i will not give them another 8 years to take all ive worked for away again !

    November 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. You've got to be Kidding Me!!!!

    One word... Desperation. This is obvisously the "November Suprise" that the ReTHUGlicans wanted to parade in front of the american people. Folks don't be fooled by this 72 hour last ditch effort to change the election in favor of "Get off my Lawn" McCain. Obama met his dad twice in his entire life. Do you really, SERIOUSLY

    November 1, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. Cappicola

    How can the McCain camp possibly "leak" something about Obama's aunt that Obama himself swears he didn't even know about in the first place? Where did the information about his aunt come from? A disenchanted or former Obama aide perhaps? A relative with a grudge? His aunt simply confiding in the wrong people in her building or neighborhood?

    How can anyone keep a straight face and claim that this was "leaked"? Face it, he got snagged.

    Maybe, her unaddressed stay in the U.S. illegally was simply a courtesy given to a politician who requested it. Perhaps Mr. Obama himself requested the favor years back.

    Obama needs to come clean on this one and tell everything he knows. "Messiahs" are expected to be forthright, truthful and candid – not deceitful or squirrelly.

    November 1, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. JIM HAWK


    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. Edward

    People that are saying that Obama not knowing about his aunt is "fishy" bear in mind that she is the half sister of a father that he never knew and she lived in public housing. It's not like he was paying for he food and stay ... did he even know that she was here?

    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Barbara, Ca.

    When I read the news concerning Obama's aunt's illegal status
    it made me sick to think McCain would stoop so low...what a
    Maverick ! The timing of this article is susicious indeed and all
    who truly care will vote for Obama'08

    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  22. Nat, NYC

    You, Obamanities, so hateful and out of mind that it is just disgusting to read your comments. I didn't see this kind of obsession from others. What is it ? Are you all mentally challenged? I'm Independent, it means not for McCain, but I see Obama as a demagogue, not trustful person and a puppet of his party and a big business.

    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. Washington Women for Obama

    Surprise, surprise!! McCain should address the ethical violations of his running mate... after all, they are seeking the highest office in the land.


    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. McSame and Plain-dumb


    My only comment is that this story is the kind of garbage everyone expects from the GOP!

    McSame & Plain-dumb should just be ashamed...

    I wonder why the GOP isn't up in arms about the Alaska Separatist Party that Plain-dumb and her husband advocate for??

    I would think breaking up a country is far more serious then 1 of about 13,000,000 million illegals.

    Can't wait for Nov 4th!


    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. shelley

    What does the word illegal mean? The fact is, this woman, as well as all the other illegals should be deported. Further, if Obama wants to "spread the wealth", can someone please tell me why his aunt is living in public housing and on welfare? His brother in Kenya lives on one dollar a month. He should be ashamed of himself for not taking care of his family members. It is now clear to me that Obama wants to spread my wealth around, but certainly not his wealth. Telling the public that he didn't know his aunt's "illegal" status is like me telling you that I am not aware that my mothers lives across the street from me. I was an undecided voter until I read this story. Now I am positively sure who I am voting for.

    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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