When US District Court Judge Steve Jones ruled that he does not have federal jurisdiction over Mark Meadows’ criminal case and sent it back to the state court in Fulton County, Georgia, he noted that the ruling does not necessarily preclude other co-defendants in the sprawling election interference probe from getting their own cases moved.
The judge stated that his ruling regarding Meadows, the one-time chief of staff for former President Donald Trump, “does not, at this time, have any effect on” the other defendants.
Those motions are still pending before Jones, and evidentiary hearings are scheduled for later this month.
“The Court will assess these Defendants’ arguments and evidence following the forthcoming hearings … independent of its conclusion” in the Meadows case, Jones wrote.
The judge explicitly stated in his ruling that he is not offering any opinion about Fulton County’s underlying criminal case against Meadows, who has pleaded not guilty.
Why it matters: Meadows was the first of five defendants who already filed motions to move the case to federal court – and Trump is expected to do so, too.
Trump’s lawyers told the judge overseeing the state case on Thursday that he may seek to move the case to federal court, but they haven’t filed the legal motions yet.
Meadows’ lawyers wanted the case in federal court so they could try to get it dismissed altogether, invoking federal immunity extended to certain individuals who are prosecuted or sued for conduct tied to their US government roles.
The defendants still trying to move their cases could hope to invoke the same federal immunity protections.
Other advantages of the move include the fact that, unlike the Fulton County courtroom, cameras are not allowed in federal courts — something that could be advantageous for Trump, who is running for president again.
CNN’s Devan Cole contributed reporting to this post.