Republicans embraced tin foil hat conspiracies and claimed Democrats lured white supremacists to Virginia in order to stage violence.

One week after the Donald Trump completely failed to lead in the wake of the deadly racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, some House Republicans are marketing new, offensive talking points: The violence was staged by Democrats in order to damage Trump and win seats in next year’s midterm elections.

“This has been stirred up,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told Fox Business on Monday. “This is being driven by forces of evil that are so far beyond what normal people can think about.”

Spelling out his baseless scenario, Gohmert suggests the Democratic mayor of Charlottesville and the Democratic governor of Virginia somehow conspired to lure white supremacists and liberal counter-protesters to the city, made sure they battled in the streets, and that law enforcement did nothing in response.

“There is a strategy to make race the number one issue in 2018 and 2020. They think it’s their ticket back this is going to blow up in their face,” Gohmert said.

Gohmert even claims there are “witnesses” who saw KKK and Black Lives Matters protesters get off the same buses in Charlottesville, implying they were simply paid actors by Democrats. Gohmert urged Trump to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Democrats, even though presidents do not, and cannot, appoint independent counsels.

“We need an investigation as to what happened in Charlottesville,” he demanded. “Who paid for the different groups to come in? Who ordered the funneling of those groups together? Who ordered to stand by while the violence goes on?”

Well known for being deeply unserious and factually challenged, Gohmert’s Charlottesville comments are wildly offensive even by the low standards he sets for himself. They reflect the tin foil hat mutterings of the Alex Jones crowd.

Note that not once during the Fox interview when asked about the deadly violence unleashed by Nazis and white supremacists did Gohmert ever condemn the Nazis and white supremacists. He only condemned Democrats for supposedly helping to stage the deadly confrontation.

Incredibly, Gohmert’s not the only Republican House member currently toiling in these dirty conspiracy waters. On Friday, Idaho Rep. Bryan Zollinger posted on his Facebook page a weird screed from the right-wing site American Thinker, suggesting, “The conflagration in Charlottesville is beginning to feel like a set-up, perhaps weeks or months in the planning.”

The Zollinger wrote that the article was “completely plausible,” even though it implied the deadly violence in Virginia “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.”

This kind of crazy talk not only smears Democrats. It also gives toxic white supremacists a pass by depicting them as dupes, and ignores their intent to do real damage in Virginia and beyond.