Rep. Madison Cawthorn shot back at online chatter speculating Russia could be mixed up in his now-ending marriage.

Less than a week after announcing he would be getting a divorce from his wife, Cristina Bayardelle, the Republican congressman from North Carolina cast those who are now suggesting he married a Russian honeypot as conspiracy theorists.

"These people are unwell," Cawthorn said Monday in a tweet bearing screenshots of verified Twitter accounts reacting to a clip of a 2020 Daily Caller interview in which the congressman talks about meeting an Army captain from Miami at a casino in St. Petersburg. Cawthorn said he and this Army captain stayed in touch, and this person later contacted him while he was in Miami for work and set Cawthorn up with his future wife at a CrossFit competition.


"Left-wing losers still bitter over their debunked Russia Hoax are spreading lies about me," Cawthorn said in a separate tweet. "They love to slam 'conspiracy theories.' They are the true conspiracy theorists."

Among those stirring the pot on Twitter was former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was fired from the bureau after the discovery of anti-Trump texts with then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page. He played a key role in opening the Trump-Russia investigation in 2016 and interviewed retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in January 2017.

"But it’s clear there’s something unusual — whether he’s nervous or lying or something else — about how he found himself in St P," he said in a Twitter thread after noting Cawthorn's demeanor changed in the video as Russia came up. "Is he some nefarious Russian penetration? Almost certainly not. Is there something more here? Almost certainly yes."

Strzok also reacted to a tweet from Julia Davis, a Daily Beast columnist and founder of Russian Media Monitor, who noted that Russian state TV was airing clips of Cawthorn "praising Russia's military might and deriding America's capabilities."

"And what a coincidence, MC recently started talking about Russia’s military might, which was promptly picked up by Russian state media channel Rossiya 1," Strzok said.


Cawthorn, 26, and Bayardelle, a fitness influencer on Instagram and a CrossFit athlete, legally married in 2020 and had a ceremony in April 2021.

The two held a private wedding ceremony in North Carolina on April 3. Cawthorn told People they picked that date because it was the anniversary of his car crash in 2014.

Cawthorn was partially paralyzed at the age of 18 in a car crash in which he was returning from a spring break trip when his friend fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a concrete barrier, according to legal documents. He had his feet up on the dashboard and was partially paralyzed in the crash. He now uses a wheelchair.

In his statement announcing they would get a divorce, Cawthorn cited "irreconcilable differences" that emerged after he was elected to become a member of Congress in 2020. The decision was mutual and the two also asked for privacy as they worked through their divorce, according to a statement.

Cawthorn represents North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, succeeding Mark Meadows, who left the tole to become Trump's White House chief of staff. Cawthorn has emerged as one of Trump's most vocal supporters and spoke at the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 shortly before the Capitol riot.