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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Smartphone users choose Google as their search engine because they prefer it, not because Google's deals with phone makers set it as a default, the search giant said in its first formal response to the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit charging monopolistic abuses.

The big picture: The response offers Google's point-by-point rebuttal of the government's charges and asks the court to dismiss the suit, with the government reimbursing the company for its legal costs. The presiding judge has said a trial likely won't start until 2023.

  • The Justice Department lawsuit accuses Google of using agreements with companies like Apple, Samsung and LG to lock in its dominance on phones, which regulators argue keeps rivals like DuckDuckGo and Bing from gaining footholds in the market.

What they're saying:

  • Google denies any suggestion that its deals with phone makers violate antitrust laws.
  • "Any and all of Google's actions alleged by Plaintiffs were lawful, justified, pro-competitive and carried out in Google's legitimate business interests and constitute bonafide competitive activity," the response reads.

The big picture: Google is also fighting off two other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general — one from a group, led by Texas, that argues Google has an unfair monopoly on online advertising, and another from a group of states including Colorado and Nebraska that charges Google with anti-competitive search practices.

Read the filing:

Go deeper

North Korean hackers targeted U.S. security researchers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Suspected North Korean state hackers have been using social engineering schemes to target security researchers, according to researchers with Google’s Threat Analysis Group.

Driving the news: Using platforms "including Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, Discord, Keybase and email," the hackers themselves posed as threat researchers in order to build legitimate profiles and backstories.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.