April 11th, 2013
01:29 PM ET
10 years ago

Jay C. rips Jay-Z

(CNN) – It seemed like White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was waiting for the question when he was asked Thursday about Jay-Z's newest rap, which focuses on his U.S. government-approved trip to Cuba with wife Beyonce last week.

In the rap, Jay-Z suggested their clearance came from the White House, when it actually came from the Treasury Department.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker']

"I turned Havana into Atlanta… Boy from the 'hood, I got White House clearance. ..Obama said 'chill you gonna get me impeached.' (But) you don't need this – expletive – anyway. Chill with me on the beach," the lyrics stated.

In one of the most bizarre exchanges in the White House press briefing room, a reporter read the lyrics to Carney, asking about the White House approval. And Carney, without missing a beat, hit back.

"I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury," he said.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was nominated by President Barack Obama earlier year and subsequently confirmed by the Senate.

(Actually, secretary kind of rhymes with treasury.)

Pressed further on whether the president had a conversation with Jay-Z, Carney shot down the speculation.

"I am absolutely saying that the White House and the president on down had nothing to do with anybody's personal, anybody's travel to Cuba," he said. "That is something the Treasury handles."

Due to the U.S. government's travel embargo with Cuba, Americans are prohibited from visiting the communist country for tourism. U.S. citizens can apply for licenses to go anyway, provided they show substantial proof they intend to visit for specific reasons, such as for business or education. And they must also provide a detailed itinerary.

After two members of Congress called for an investigation of the power couple's controversial trip and explanation of the type of travel license issued, the Treasury Department responded in a letter, giving more details about the licenses.

"It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC [the Office of Foreign Assets Control] to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba," the letter read.

- CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak and Erin McPike contributed to this report.

Filed under: Cuba • Jay Carney
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Emmanuel Goldstein

    To anyone saying they got preferential treatment because they are rich and that no average American would get permission:
    My best friend's sister and her boyfriend went to Cuba a few months ago. They make about $60,000 per year between the two of them. Got permission and everything. The who law is ridiculous anyway as it is perfectly legal to drive to Canada or Mexico and fly to Cuba from there (I have know several people who have done that). The embargo is so antiquated it is a joke. Under Raul Castro, they have made great strides to conform to more modern ethical standards (Allowing home ownership, turning over fugitives, announcing general elections and age limits on high public office to take effect in a few years). The whole thing is political, with both parties thinking it is silly but neither one saying so, not wanting to lose votes in swing-state Florida.

    April 11, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Anthony in California

    Hey America.. you are already a Communist state..
    dont believe me.. read the "Made In..." tags on over 90% of the things in your home...
    Not too mention the amount of money we owe China for those 2 wars and tax breaks for the rich....

    Jay Z want to go smoke a Cuban cigar, cool, just dont whine about it if youre not going to uproar about China.
    And lets not forget the Bin Ladens were friends with Bush all the way up to 9-11, when the were privately flown home (while there was a strict 'no-fly-zone" over all of America at the time.

    Politics are dirty. Deal with it.

    April 11, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. WHAT?

    What the hell is wrong with this country and the media we have so many issues going on in this country and abroad not including a possible war with North Korea and this is what I see in a freaking press conference fired the person that ask? the question. I grew up listening to rap music but it has no place in politics or our country issues at hand.

    April 11, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it????

    He actually said, boy from the hood, but got white house clearance...

    Meaning he has or had clearance to the white house..

    But I guess in this new age of social media, there's a lot of shooting first, and actually never asking questions

    April 11, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. MarkinFL

    What a complete non-issue. Can't we get back the the regularly scheduled nonsense in Washington?

    April 11, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Sarah/Dumfries,VA

    These Cuban refugees(i mean the cubans in congress)they call Florida their home town?NO they Americans on paper & they from Cuba & they got some "Nerve"to disrespect Obama

    April 11, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. mrskool

    shame on JayZ for name dropping the POTUS in his lyrics. if he likes Obama so much then why is he bringing him in to his high profile controversy ? no class 🙁

    April 11, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. James R Hoffa

    Filthy animal, stay in Cuba.

    April 11, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. John

    Actually E.Goldstein, it's not perfectly legal for an American to drive to Canada or Mexico and fly from there. It is legal under Canadian and Mexican law, but violates OFAC sanctions, including a ban on travel to Cuba and spending money in Cuba by any American citizen. That said, enforcement against individuals is unlikely. It is very easy to get permission to travel to Cuba from the Treasury dept and then do it legally....you just have to go through a licensed travel agency that facilitates trips for educational, cultural or artistic purposes. You basically can go, as long as you do some educational or artistic things on your trip. (Any approved travel agency will have to ensure that you do the requisite/minimum amount of things to qualify). Thousands of Americans go this way every year, flying from the US, and their trip is perfectly legal (unlike just going from Canada)...

    April 11, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |

    Rap isn't music anyway. I don't see what the issue is.

    April 11, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Guest

    The liar chides the criminal.....what an example from the left!

    April 11, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. Joe M.

    What a corrupt Administration. The rules apply to everyone except them and their friends. In that regard, Obama shares a significant trait with Castro. No wonder he OK'd Jay-Z's trip to help with Castro's propaganda.

    April 11, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. AZ Girl

    Wow. We don't have any true politician's any longer. All we have are whiny, immature, narcicistic, LOSERS. Really? Two reps calling for an investigation? Really? Why? Because they think there was preferential treatment? We have N Korea threatening our allies with NUCLEAR weapons, foreclosures beginning to rise again, still fighting unemployment, homelessness, violence against women and children, (keep adding to the list) and POLITICAL REPS think the most outrageous thing to call for an investigation is this?

    PS, the reason the embargos are there is because the govt was pi**ed off at Castro for the whole Bay of Pigs debacle. Let it go and send some of those cigars here!

    April 11, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Payne

    Red herring. While they've got your attention focused on this non-issue, they can pick your pockets easier. The people in power know this tactic, and use it to they're advantage whenever possible. Those who don't believe this need to educated themselves in the United States, political process. Quit being a party follower, and try thinking for yourselves.

    April 11, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. America doesn't want you back

    Stay in Cuba.

    America will not miss you two.

    April 11, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Mel Love

    That's exactly why our country is in the mess we're in!!!!!! To busy worring about SMALL DUMB ISSUES when we have children being bullied and killed everyday! PLEASE POLITICIANS FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT ISSUES!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Wake up People!

    @Meatpaste.. Rap isn't music but heavy metal is??? You might need to chat with Jay and find out how he became a millionaire off of non music. You poor broke saps, hate to see a black man come up.

    That goes out to you too James R. Hoffa. You're probably the animal.

    And to all that like to call us names. WE learned a very long time ago that.....

    Go get em Jay!! Brush your shoulders off.

    April 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Craig

    Secretary is not even close to rhyming with treasury.

    April 11, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. KJH16

    So let me get this straight : If I want to fly to China, Iraq or Afghanistan, my government wouldn't even blink an eye, much less try to stop me, but if I want to go to Cuba, I have to get their permission ??? What kind of dumb ish is that ??

    April 11, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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