Trump faces looming deadlines in Mar-a-Lago case that could quickly lead to indictment
Donald Trump (Photo of Trump via Agence France-Presse)

The preliminary phase of the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation is about to reach an important deadline, and prosecution could be next for Donald Trump.

Special master Raymond Dearie faces a Dec. 16 deadline for issuing his report on evidence seized by FBI agents at Trump's home, but the 11th Circuit Court has indicated it may take the case away from him any day, and the Justice Department has a hearing scheduled Thursday with the retired judge appointed to oversee the case, reported The New York Sun.

"Many legal watchers now believe Judge Dearie is laboring on borrowed time, as Mr. Trump’s attorney, James Trusty, could not furnish the jurists with a single instance where a special master was appointed in the absence of a finding of prosecutorial misconduct," wrote A.R. Hoffman, assistant editor for The Sun. "A hearing before the special master is scheduled for December 1, adding a dash of urgency to the riders’ deliberations."

If the appeals court undoes Dearie's appointment, as appears likely, that would allow newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith to quickly hand up an indictment against the former president for squirreling away top-secret government documents at his home.

READ MORE: Capitol rioter who vowed to be 'Hitler on Steroids' blames 'drunken frustration' for his actions in leniency plea

"If the special counsel stays in place, his final report will inevitably be subject to further legal wrangling and appeals, pushing the horizon for a trial even further into the distance," Hoffman wrote. "The greater the delay, the louder the cries that Mr. Trump, who has already declared for 2024, is being subject to a political prosecution."

Smith's team is likely eager to get started so they can move the case out of the Southern District of Florida, where Trump-appointed judge Aileen Cannon has surprised legal experts with a series of baffling rulings that favor the former president, and move the prosecution to the District of Columbia.

"An indictment could allow Mr. Smith to end Judge Cannon’s stewardship of the investigation," Hoffman wrote. "The District of Columbia could prove to be an enticing place to file charges, as the documents were first transported from the White House and the jury pool is likely to be skeptical of Mr. Trump, given that more than 90 percent of its residents voted for President Biden."