Jay-Z fires back with rap about Cuba trip woes

Posted at 8:35 PM, Apr 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-12 19:00:44-04

By CNN Political Unit

(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.

"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.