The word "idiot" quickly became the most searched term on Google after Republican congresswoman Zoe Lofgren pointed out results from the search reveal pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump. They also asked about recent revelations of data leaks affecting millions of Google users, Android location tracking, and Google's work to combat white supremacist content on YouTube. "How would that happen?"
While a statement from Google at the time said search results are not dictated by a political agenda but are generated by algorithms which are constantly being improved, Mr Pichai told Congress on Tuesday "we don't participate in partisan activities".
"Users also look to us to provide accurate, trusted information", he said.
When a McClatchy reporter did an image search for "idiot" on Tuesday after the question was asked, all but four of the top 17 pictures that came up included the president or his two adult sons.
But for the tens of thousands of people who were watching the hearing online via live stream, Pichai's carefully prepared testimony was disturbed by a unusually dressed man in the background who appeared to be the "Rich Uncle Pennybags" from the board game Monopoly.
The CEO may also be questioned about the company's planned "Dragonfly" project, a censored search engine for China. Pichai's no-show at that hearing was marked by an empty chair for Google alongside the Facebook and Twitter executives who did appear.
In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: "If you want positive search results, do positive things". "Our algorithms have no notion of political sentiment".
Trump himself has accused Google of rigging the results of its dominant search engine to suppress conservative viewpoints and highlight coverage from media that he says distribute "fake news".
"Congressman, I commit to engaging - one of the things that is important to us as a company - we have a stated mission of providing users with information, and so we always - we think it's within our duty to explore possibilities. We could subpoena Fox News and bring them in here and beat them up about how 90 percent of the references on Fox News to Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton are negative, but they've got that right under the First Amendment, and you've got a right under the First Amendment to have whatever political views you've got", Raskin said.
Pichai said the search engine attempts to help people register to vote or find a polling place, but rejected assertions that the company paid for Latino voters' transportation to polls in some states. Several legislators conducted searches on their cell phones and griped to him on the spot about the results.
"I understand the frustration at seeing negative news, and I see it on me on Google", Pichai told the packed hearing.
Republican Lamar Smith asked whether Google's search engine is biased against conservatives, citing studies.
"Last year we served over 3 trillion searches".