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Photo: Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

The court battle over AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner got off to a contentious start Monday as lawyers fought over what evidence they could bring into court.

Why it matters: Key themes are already emerging after the first day of AT&T's trial fight against DoJ. For starters, Judge Richard Leon wants to hear from AT&T's competitors, and the government wants to show the hypocrisy of the telecom giant's arguments.

What they’re saying: Justice Department attorney Eric Welsh argued against an attempt by AT&T to keep out of the trial earlier statements from subsidiary DirecTV opposing the Comcast-NBCU merger going through without conditions, arguing they were related to a different case.

  • This is key to the DoJ's case: It wants to show AT&T has opposed similarly structured deals that saw a telecom company buying a media firm.
  • Judge Richard J. Leon indicated he might be willing to treat it only as a statement from DirecTV, not AT&T. If AT&T is successful at getting DirecTV removed as a defendant in the case, it would be a blow to the government.
  • Welsh pushed back that the “same people” involved in earlier deals would be making decisions about the industry going forward. He said some of the other documents DoJ was trying to include had "many, many, many bad statements."

Leon expressed interest in another main thread of the case: whether a telecom provider like AT&T would be competing with Silicon Valley powerhouses like Google or Facebook. He indicated he wants to hear more from a Google employee who was deposed by the DoJ about the importance of Time Warner content to its YouTube TV streaming service.

The judge also made it clear he was worried about witnesses from AT&T's competitors being allowed to testify in secret and AT&T keeping certain documents confidential. He said weighing a "case of this magnitude" in closed court isn't consistent with the premise of a trial.

  • Some of AT&T's competitors sent lawyers to Monday’s hearing. One attempted to address Leon at the end of the day and was sharply rebuked. “Sir, when I talk, you stop,” Leon told the man, who said he represented a Sony subsidiary.

What’s next: There will be more evidentiary arguments on Tuesday. Opening arguments are scheduled for Wednesday and, according to AT&T lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, will be attended by the chief executives of both AT&T and Time Warner.

This story has been clarified to more precisely reflect DirecTV's position on the Comcast-NBCU merger.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

5 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."