Meghan McCain Left 'The View' in Part to Stay with Family: 'Geography Was a Big Piece,' Says Source

Meghan McCain announced her exit from The View on Thursday, noting her desire to remain in Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter

Meghan McCain announced Thursday that she will be leaving The View after the current season concludes in July — a decision that she made only recently, a source tells PEOPLE.

"It was a recent decision," the insider says. "ABC did want her to stay, but it was her decision for quite a few reasons that she said in her statement — that she made the decision along with her family that it was her time to step back."

During Thursday's episode of the daily talk show, McCain, 36, cited her life in Washington, D.C. with husband Ben Domenech and 9-month-old daughter Liberty as one of the reasons for her exit.

"This was not an easy decision," she told viewers. "It took a lot of thought and counsel and prayer, and talking to my family and my close friends, and, you know, look — COVID has changed the world for all of us and it changed the way, at least for me, the way I am looking at life, the way I'm living my life, the way I want my life to look like."

meghan mccain
Meghan McCain on The View. Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty

"They did want her to come back to the New York studio," the source says of ABC. "And in D.C., her family is there, her mom's a new ambassador now and she'll be in D.C., Ben's situated there for work and his family — her in-laws — are there. The geography was a big piece of it."

It is unclear if McCain is fielding projects outside of ABC, though she does have an Audible book coming out in September, the source adds.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE, ABC said, "For the past four years, Meghan McCain has brought her fierce determination and vast political knowledge and experience to The View. She recently came to us with her decision to depart the show at the end of this season, a difficult choice that she made for her and her family that we respect and understand."

"We wish the best for Meghan as she plans her next chapter, and thank her for the passion and unique voice that she shared with us and our viewers each day," the statement concluded.

Meghan McCain's The View Co-Hosts React to News of Her Departure
the view/ twitter

After McCain shared her announcement on The View, co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines all reacted to the news.

Behar, who frequently went head-to-head with McCain on The View, said she was grateful to have had such a "formidable opponent."

"You and I have had our disagreements, we've had our fights, we also had some drinking moments which were rather fun and interesting," said Behar, 78. "I have to say that what we have in common — as do all of us here — is that we're on a show where we stick our necks out, we take the blowback. We take a lot of hits on this show and we stick to our points of view. You have done that brilliantly for four years."

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"I hope that you can say that I did the same thing," she continued. "I really, really appreciated the fact that you were a formidable opponent in many ways, and that you spoke your mind — and you're no snowflake, missy."

Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Meghan McCain's departure from The View.

Goldberg mentioned McCain's late father, Sen. John McCain, in her own tribute to her co-host.

"It's been quite wonderful to sit across from you. Your dad was very smart. He wanted you to be here with us because I think he thought we could help toughen you up for what was coming, which was, you know, this wonderful baby you were going to have and his departure," said Goldberg, 64. "So it was an honor when he said, 'Please take my child.'"

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