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White House denies it gave Beyonce & Jay-Z special clearance for Cuba trip

U.S. singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z tour Old Havana , April 4, 2013. AP/Ramon Espinosa

White House spokesman Jay Carney denied that American pop star Beyonce and her rapper husband Jay-Z got special clearance from U.S. President Barack Obama to travel to Cuba, after Jay-Z made that claim in a new rap.

A reporter at the White House briefing read lines from a rap written by Jay-Z in which he suggested that he received White House clearance for his trip to Cuba. The rapper even mentioned that he personally spoke to Obama about the trip.

“I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury,” Carney quipped at the briefing. “Because Treasury offers and gives licenses for travel, as you know, and the White House has nothing to do with it.”

When a reporter pressed the issue and asked whether Obama ever spoke to Jay-Z about the trip, Carney reiterated that the president was not privy to the couple’s travel arrangements.

“I’m absolutely saying the White House, from the president on down, had nothing to do with anybody’s travel to Cuba,” said Carney. “That is something that Treasury handles.”

Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Cuba during a four-day visit last week, much to the delight of fans in Havana.

When the Treasury Department approved a cultural trip to Cuba last week, it had no idea that those traveling included Beyonce and Jay-Z, according to Academic Arrangements Abroad, the New York-based group that organized the trip.

The long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the communist-led island without a license granted by the U.S. government.