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. Anonymous

    The most suspicious part of this report is David Axelrod who is the Chicago Democratic equivalent of Karl Rove

    November 1, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. jm from sc

    What about Joe, the difference is, Joe the plumber was a plant for the McCain camp. First of all, he is a phony man who was looking for some fame. It does not take much to attact the attention of a drowning man, so McCain grabbed on to him. His real name is not Joe. He is not a plumber and has no money to buy the business. Now he is now part of the McCain campaign.

    On the other hand, Obama's aunt did not come out campaiging trying to make a name for herself. When you go out attacking a candidate in the public like this fake guy did, you open yourself up to be vetted. People need to stop grabbing on to everything said in the news. Enough already of that Joe the Plumber guy.

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  3. Catherine

    This is outrageous but really a sign of desperation – and who cares about an elderly , poor woman who lives in public housing?

    This smells – I hope the investigation uncovers the rat who let it out.

    November 1, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  4. Yessica

    CNN: Don't supressed my comment; DONT FORGET ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEACH:

    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 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. Texas Trail Kitty

    My, my, how convenient that this story "suddenly" surfaced. McCain and Palin will stop at nothing. They have turned the entire democratic election system into some kind of game. No more games. News flash for the republicans – YOU DO NOT HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO RUN THIS COUNTRY. The public has something to say bout this. Remember us, the pesty public? Finally, finally, I hope the poison apple of conservatism has been jolted from the throats of the American public.

    November 1, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. Michelle

    And what bearing does this have on Barack Obama, anyway? It's not like he's married to a secessionist or attended secessionist meetings in Alaska.

    November 1, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. Georgiagirl

    The old man is still trying to seal the election. What about his wife slealing drugs from thing the poor babies. He would do anything to win. This should have nothing to to with Obama.

    November 1, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. Pamela E.

    I am so proud of Obama! This man is so squeaky clean they had to dig deep into his family to find something on him. A family that he doesn't even know! It's not his fault that she's in America illegally. This is just another tactic by the republic to defray the attention from the real issues.

    November 1, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. will ny


    November 1, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. jules

    They said Obama's aunt attended a ceremony when Obama became senator. Do you really think he didn't know her whereabouts? He has so few family members and this lady has been to the US many, many times in the last 30 years. He knew. He just didn't care and hoped it would stay hidden. I am so sick of the way the Democrats always whine about the negativity of McCain. I've lived through so many elections that were far worse than this one. If Obama didn't have something to whine about what would he talk about? Just like his infomercial, he will say the same thing over and over, except for the tax increase. That amount keeps changing.

    November 1, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  11. Ken

    This goes to show you that there are many secrets behind Obama that the American people deserve to know about. Obama's aunt needs to obey the laws just like any other person. She broke the law when she did not follow the orders that the judge gave her.

    Where is I.C.E.? She needs to be arrested and deported back to her own country. There is NO EXCUSE for this. Also, while I.C.E. is arresting her and deporting her, they can round up the other 10 million others like her that are in this country ILLEGAL.

    NOBAMA 2008

    McCain/Palin 2008

    November 1, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. nancy Taf

    CNN Please Post

    I am confident that Obama will win the election, and when he does, he will surround himself with knowlegable people who will address the issue of responsible immigration. The GOP had 8 years of which McCain was equal party, and they collectively did nothing on the immigration front. So dont blame Obama you McCain people, blame "W" and his party for not coming up with a viable solution

    Was this a Leak to distract VOTES: HELL YES
    Is it working: HELL NO

    Send Obama/Biden to the Whitehouse – they deserve it for running a better campaign that "Those two"

    November 1, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. Club America

    Disgusting. O'Bamas past is riddled with so much negativity, far more than anyone I have ever read about and yet this man want's to be my President.

    Sorry O'Bama..Even if you get elected by the welfare rats of this country looking for more free handouts, I will never acknowledge you as the president of MY country.

    November 1, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  14. Vazquez

    The way I see it Obama's aunt is not running for President. If we took all this negative and turn it into positive may be we can put this country back on track.The republicans have sent this country down hill for the last eight years.If they get it another four years we all will be looking for a place to stay.Obama has the vision and the ability to steer this country in the right direction.So John Palin Bush McCain give it a rest and let the better leader lead.OBAMA IS THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  15. Dee

    Suspect timing. And in all honesty, Sen. Obama says he didn't know and why should anyone think otherwise? Does it have any bearing on his judgment? His ability to lead? Then leave it in the gutter with the rest of the trash. This is about America's future, not the National Enquirer

    November 1, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  16. Susan

    If Obama's aunt is living in the US illegally, there is no way Obama could not be unaware of it. If he is lying, we would rather know now.

    This is a serious issue.

    Democrats changing to McCain now

    November 1, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  17. Boston for OBAMA/BIDEN

    Hope she is allowed to stay.......She has been a productive citizen,

    November 1, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. Shirley-Ohio

    Thats okay, Palin got pranked by a Canadian Comedy Duo radio station. She thought she was talking to French President Sarkozy and talked for almost 7 minutes to these pranksters. WoW. You can here the call on the Huffington Post. WoW.

    November 1, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  19. Read Carefully And Pay Attention!

    The aide isn't saying it is suspicious this news came out. The aide is saying that VOTERS are suspicious of attacks like this. The title and content of this article is misleading.

    November 1, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  20. DE

    To Sarah Palin the Alaskan Lobbyyist- It has been over 2 years, where are Obama's medical records? And I am not talking about the 1/2 page permission slip he released from his doctor. The excuses liberals come up with for Obama's many shortcomings are hilarious. By listening to them I keep waiting for the "Messiah" to walk across the oceans to change the world, his newest promise today. I also think that the statement "last minute appearence of stories" is a black code phrase for racial hatred of whites.

    November 1, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  21. POW=PTS

    Hey Ridgeway, Bet your from NW PA. I know and you know what you are up there. The home to the largest Klan base in the country. Now, be a good boy and get down to the bar and beat your wife, shoot some small game for dinner tomorrow, stop posting. No hillbillies allowed.

    November 1, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  22. Joe the Plumber info WASN'T a leak

    This is NOT the same as Joe the Plumber and his "leaked" owed taxes and lack of license–those actually AREN'T "leaks", they are a matter of public record–anybody who knew my name & profession could easily and very legally find out if I was licensed in my profession and if I was up to date on my taxes or not (if I wasn't, it becomes a matter of public record). Leaking immigration information like Obama's half-aunt, however, is a violation of law–similar to someone leaking someone's private medical records (although not covered by the same laws of course). But this is a side issue, the main thing is WHO CARES!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  23. carol kesling

    to mufando, YOU ARE A "TRUE RACIST" thank god you cant vote!!!!! you will have to wait 4 more years !!!!!!! ha,ha,ha, we have had the last 8 years to show for socialism... AND ITS TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY !!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. Diane

    I am sooooooooo tired of all the allegations coming out against Obama. Please people if you want lower taxes then vote for Obama and if you want more of the same republican rhetoric then vote for McCain.

    November 1, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  25. Denise

    'Am I my brothers keeper'......I don't know much about some of my relatives, nor do I care, I am not their keeper....

    Vote Obama!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
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