Michael Isikoff

Stories by Michael Isikoff

  • With Friends Like Hillary

    No One Doubts Her Status As A Very special friend of Bill and Hillary--or that Susan Thomases, a brash New York securities lawyer who has known both Clintons since the 1970s, played an important unofficial role in the confusion after Vince Foster's suicide. Thomases, who served the Clinton presidential campaign as chief scheduler and who is still Hillary Clinton's private lawyer, will be questioned at the Senate Whitewater hearings this week. That should raise her profile as an influential member of the Clinton entourage. But what few outside the Beltway know is that Thomases has turned her friendship into a career as a Washington influence peddler-and she isn't subtle about it.Thomases declined repeated requests for comment. But those who have seen her at work describe a heavy-handed style. Hired to represent a group of Puerto Rican companies in a dispute with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, she stunned a lawyer representing the firms by announcing that "this...
  • Out Of The Line Of Fire

    Read the plaque outside the department of Veterans Affairs' Washington office, and you'd think the agency's mission one of the more ennobling in government: it's ""to care for him who shall have borne the battle.'' But walk into room 433A at the VA Medical Center in Beckley, W.Va., and you meet Gregory Walker, 29, who's never been anywhere near battle. A self-described alcoholic and prescription-drug addict, Walker calls his problems ""service-related'': he first got hooked on booze at Fort Knox. Sharing Walker's room is Kermit Fox, a wizened 55-year-old vet who has spent much of the last decade living in a VA psychiatric ward -- the result, he says, of a traumatic gunshot wound he suffered in Chicago long after he left the army. The total cost to the government for Fox's treatment? More than $1 million. Does Fox believe he's entitled to free lifetime care at taxpayer expense? Hell, yes: ""There wouldn't be no U.S.A. if it weren't for the veterans.'' ...
  • Gingrich: Newt's Gay Sister Gets Out Front

    When hundreds of gay and lesbian activists march on Capitol Hill this week to demand support for AIDS funding, Newt Gingrich's half sister, Candace, will be at the head of the pack. A 28-year-old computer technician from Harrisburg, Pa., Candace Gingrich has long had a relaxed, live-and-let-live relationship with her conservative sibling. But she is fast becoming a political symbol. As ever, the religious right is determined to make homosexuality a wedge issue. And the gay-rights movement wants to use Candace Gingrich to fight back. ...
  • To Be Or Not To Be

    Congressman Mark Souder is a loyal foot soldier in Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's army -- a freshman from Indiana who is committed to slashing the federal budget. But last week, Souder found himself grappling with an unexpectedly unpleasant choice. Named to the House panel that will determine the fate of funding for the arts and humanities, Souder discovered that the Ft. Wayne Philharmonic in his district receives a $36,000 grant from that favorite target of conservatives -- the National Endowment for the Arts. Souder never thought much of the NEA, but he has a special fondness for the Philharmonic; one of its members taught him to play the French horn. Philharmonic benefactors were among his biggest campaign supporters. Will Souder join the crusade to kill the NEA? "I haven't made any final decisions," he says. "This is going to be difficult." ...
  • An Armey For The Revolution

    Bill Clinton may soon start praying for Newt Gingrich's good health. The speaker-to-be is a moderate compared with his next in command, Rep. Dick Armey of Flower Mound, Texas. Armey, who will soon take over as House majority leader, once complained that Hillary Clinton sounds ""a lot like Karl Marx.'' She called him the ""Dr. Kevorkian'' of the health-care debate. Ever since that exchange, Armey says, President Clinton has barely deigned to speak to him at White House events. ...
  • Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

    Ben Chavis had no idea what he was getting into when he crossed Mary E. Stansel. Friends say the 49-year-old former aide to Sen. Howell Heflin is a "woman of great commitment" who fights for what she believes. She is also a lawyer who has sued Eastern Air Lines for negligence, the National Bar Association for defamation and an 81-year-old woman for fraud, leaving a trail of subpoenas and discovery requests from Alabama to Washington. ...