Although the White House said it wasn't involved, rapper Jay-Z boasts in a new song Thursday that he got "White House clearance" for his recent trip to Cuba with wife Beyonce.
"I done turned Havana into Atlanta," Jay-Z raps in the song. "Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance... Politicians never did [expletive] for me except lie to me, distort history. ... They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime."
Later in the song titled "Open Letter," he raps, "Hear the freedom in my speech. ... Obama said, 'Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don't need this [expletive] anyway, chill with me on the beach.' "
White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated Thursday that no one in the White House, including the president, was involved in the decision to allow the couple to travel to Cuba. U.S. policy restricts travel to Cuba unless it's approved by the government for academic, cultural, religious or journalistic purposes.
"I am absolutely saying that the White House, from the president on down, had nothing to do with anybody's personal travel to Cuba," Mr. Carney said. "That is something that Treasury handles. The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip."
Florida Republican lawmakers Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have criticized them for traveling to the communist nation. U.S. policy restricts travel to the island unless approved by the government.
The Treasury Department said Thursday it gave approval to the trip's organizers for the group to travel to Cuba, but department policy does not require the organizers to provide the names of all the travelers.
"It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by (the Office of Foreign Assets Control) to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba," Alastair M. Fitzpayne, the Treasury's assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart.
The letter said that "OFAC's regulations and guidelines require that such trips involve a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that result in meaningful interaction between the U.S. travelers and individuals of Cuba." Visitors are allowed to "engage in non-educational activities off-hours."
Sang Jay-Z, "I'm in Cuba, I love Cubans. This communist talk is so confusing."
He and Beyonce visited Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary. They toured Old Havana, and Jay-Z was photographed smoking a Cuban cigar. They also dined at an upscale restaurant.
U.S. citizens may not travel to Cuba simply for tourism.
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