An Idaho state lawmaker is facing backlash for sharing a conspiracy theory that former President Obama helped to orchestrate the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., as part of a plot to take down President Trump.
Idaho Rep. Bryan Zollinger on Friday posted a story on Facebook that suggested Obama and other top Democrats like billionaire George Soros and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe were part of a conspiracy to set up the rally, the Idaho Statesman reported.
“I’m not saying it is true, but I am suggesting that it is completely plausible,” Zollinger wrote on Facebook.
The story claims that Obama has set up a “war room” to fight against the Trump administration — a claim that has largely been debunked — and that Charlottesville was a part of his plan.
The lawmaker later told the Idaho Statesman that it was “maybe a mistake” to share the story but doubled down on his statement that the claims were “plausible.”
The post suggests, at various points, that the white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, which resulted in brawls with counterprotesters and an apparent terrorist attack that left Heather Heyer dead and 19 others injured, may have been plotted by former President Barack Obama, billionaire George Soros, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe or Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer — or by some shadowy cabal involving them all.
In an interview, Zollinger said he hadn’t meant to offend anyone with the post, and that on further reflection, its claims are “probably wrong.” He continued to describe the claims as “plausible,” however.
“In hindsight, maybe it was a mistake to post it,” Zollinger said. “I didn’t mean for it to ruffle any feathers.”
Zollinger represents District 33, which encompasses most of Idaho Falls.
The Charlottesville rally turned violent when white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, clashed with counterprotesters. A woman was killed when a car was driven into counterprotesters. The alleged driver has ties to white supremacist groups.
Trump faced harsh criticism for his initial response to the violence, when he blamed “many sides” for the violence. Days later, he criticized white supremacists, but then later reverted to his initial stance, blaming “both sides” and specifically accusing the “alt-left” of provoking violence.