The music power couple caused a political uproar on Capitol Hill.
Two Republican congressmen with ties to the Cuban community in Miami vowed to investigate. They wanted to know how the trip came about and whether the White House was involved in any way.
Jay-Z suggested as much when he rapped the lyric “Boy from the ‘hood got White House clearance.” He added: “Obama said, ‘Chill, you gonna get me impeached’/ You don’t need this sh–anyway; chill with me on the beach.”
But the president denied he was doing any chillin’ with the rapper, much less signing-off on his vacations, a la Hov’s “Open Letter,” released Apr. 11.
“This is not something the White House was involved with. We’ve got better things to do,” he told “Today Show” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.
The president seemed bemused by the whole incident. “I wasn’t familiar that they were taking the trip,” he said. “My understanding is, I think they went through a group that organizes these educational trips down to Cuba.”
TheImproper was one of the first sites to point out the political ramifications of the trip, which created a public relations bonanza for the isolated island nation.
The communist nation has been under trade and travel restrictions since Fidel Castro overthrew the government in 1959 and established a communist state. But in recent years relations have thawed somewhat.
President Obama eased travel restrictions to the island, something that President Clinton did during his term in office. But between the two Democratic administrations, GOP President George W. Bush tightened travel rules.
Castro is now in his 80s and retired from the day-to-day running of the government. His brother Raoul, who is in his 70s, has been named president in his stead. More than 400,000 U.S. citizens traveled to Cuba last year. Most have ties to the nation or relatives living there.
A small number of Americans travel there through educational groups. Only cultural and educational exchanges are allowed. Tourist visits are still officially banned.