The White House still isn't saying whether it will approve or reject a permit for the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport heavy crude oil from Canada to the United States. But the president's former national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon, told an Aspen Institute audience Tuesday that he "probably would" back it on energy security grounds.

In the last couple of minutes of his discussion with Walter Isaacson, the Aspen Institute's president and CEO, Donilon explained that the fact that U.S. energy production had increased in recent years made it easier for the administration to impose trade sanctions on Iran. Isaacson followed up by asking, "I know you’re not in the administration so maybe you could answer this would you recommend for the Keystone pipeline if you were there, for that reason?"