Jay-Z and Beyonce's infamous trip to Cuba wasn't approved by Barack Obama, newly released documents confirm.
That the government was asked to release documents definitively proving that the president wasn't involved in granting the famous couple (who are also friends of Obama and donated to his re-election campaign) speaks to the level of interest in the case. Obama had repeatedly denied involvement in the story, as the Treasury handles such matters such the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). "We've got better things to do," Obama said at the time.
MuckRock published partially redacted documents which reveal the performers took their parents with them and went as part of a group organized by the Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation. The trip occurred around the time of the couple's fifth wedding anniversary.
In a statement sent to New York magazine, the foundation offered this explanation: "The entertainers Beyoncé and Jay-Z (Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Carter) were among Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation members who traveled with the Foundation's recent architecture and the arts tour to Havana, Cuba," Miller, the director, confirmed. "The trip, our third to Cuba, was organized over the course of several months as a fully licensed people-to-people program, and was packed with activities. The group attended lectures on the history of architecture and urban development in Havana and walking tours of architectural landmarks given by the architect and urban planner Miguel Coyula and others."
At the time, Republican lawmakers felt the travels of Jay and Beyonce were issues of national importance, prompting the White House to again make it clear they hadn't communicated with the rapper's camp. Jay-Z then released "Open Letter," a song that included boasts about the trip and referenced Obama, prompting White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to quip that he guesses "nothing rhymes with Treasury."
At this year's White House Correspondent's Association Dinner, Obama joked that he had "99 Problems and Jay-Z is one of them," a reference to Jay-Z's song "99 Problems."