Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' supporters have created a trust fund to help pay his legal expenses, which are mounting in the...

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WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ supporters have created a trust fund to help pay his legal expenses, which are mounting in the face of a Justice Department investigation into whether Gonzales committed perjury or improperly tampered with a congressional witness.

The establishment of a legal-defense fund for the nation’s former chief law-enforcement officer illustrates the potential peril confronting Gonzales, one of a handful of attorneys general to face potential criminal charges for actions taken in office.

David Leitch, a Gonzales friend and general counsel at Ford Motor, wrote in an e-mail solicitation to potential contributors last month that Gonzales is “innocent of any wrongdoing” but does not have the means to pay for his legal defense after a career spent mostly in public service.

“In the hyperpoliticized atmosphere that has descended on Washington, an innocent man cannot simply trust that the truth will out,” Leitch wrote.

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Leitch also wrote that Gonzales’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, “has substantially reduced his fees to represent Al Gonzales, but the costs will likely be high nonetheless.” A contribution form asking for donations to the Alberto R. Gonzales Legal Expense Trust suggests amounts from $500 to $5,000.

The inspector general is looking at whether Gonzales misled Congress in sworn testimony and improperly sought to influence testimony of an aide, Monica Goodling, about last year’s firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

The inspector general’s office can hand over evidence to prosecutors and recommend further investigation and possible charges, officials have said.

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