The Senate Intelligence Committee asked Google to send one of its top leaders to Washington, joining Twitter and Facebook, to discuss the use of social media by foreign actors to manipulate U.S. elections. Google offered only to send its lawyer. The committee angrily refused, and left an empty chair at the witness table to mark Google’s absence.

Several senators slammed Google during the hearing. “I’m deeply disappointed that Google, one of the most influential platforms in the world, chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee,” said the committee’s ranking Democrat Mark Warner (D-VA). “Because I know a number of our committee members have questions about a number of structural vulnerabilities on Google’s platforms that they need answers to.”

Google released this statement in its defense Wednesday:

“Over the last 18 months we’ve met with dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in US elections. Our SVP of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, who reports directly to our CEO and is responsible for our work in this area, will be in Washington, D.C. today, where he will deliver written testimony, brief Members of Congress on our work, and answer any questions they have. We had informed the Senate Intelligence Committee of this in late July and had understood that he would be an appropriate witness for this hearing.”

There are plenty of theories about Google’s real reason(s) for not sending a top dog like Larry Page to the hearing, and none of them are very pretty….