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Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

AT&T spent Monday on a final aggressive attempt to undermine the foundation of the Justice Department’s case to block its proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, while government lawyers looked to cement their case by destroying the company’s credibility.

The bottom line: The closing arguments set the stage for Judge Richard J. Leon's decision after the more than six-week-long trial, which will send waves rippling through the tech, telecom and media industries— and likely affect the millions of consumers who use these companies' products.

What's next: Leon said he expected to deliver a ruling on June 12, although that date could be moved up if he makes a decision sooner. The termination date for the deal to close is June 21.

The details:

  • The government argued that the only way to address the problems with the deal was to block it. If the judge didn't go that far, Justice Department lawyers urged him to make AT&T sell DirecTV, its video distribution platform, or some of the Time Warner content that, they alleged, would give it leverage over competitors in that video space. “Your honor,” said lead government lawyer Craig Conrath, “this merger is a big deal.”
  • Conrath said that AT&T’s promises not to engage in anti-competitive behavior were undermined by its executives' own statements.
  • AT&T and Time Warner argued that the economic model the Justice Department used to estimate that consumer bills will rise after the merger was irredeemably flawed. And so, their lead lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said, the government's entire case was as well.
  • "This whole case is a house of cards," he said. "The model makes no sense. The model is not consistent with the real world."

Buzz: The closing day of the trial brought big names to the courthouse, including AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

  • Andrew Finch, a top lieutenant in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, sat with the government’s litigators at their table in front of the judge.
  • At lunch, ahead of his closing arguments, Petrocelli huddled with Stephenson and AT&T General Counsel David McAtee in the courthouse cafeteria, while Bewkes carried out a conversation several tables away. Both stayed in the courtroom into the afternoon session.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

5 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. on Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest hours later, per AP.