"I don't watch it and I knew her when she was very young," O'Donnell said of McCain, who's the daughter of the late Senator John McCain. "I had the pleasure of working with her father for a lot of the Wounded Warrior Project. And so, got to know him through there and, you know, I think she's in a difficult position."
McCain's position on the ABC morning show is that of the conservative on the panel -- a role she usually shares with Abby Huntsman, who's currently out on maternity leave -- alongside more liberal hosts Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin.
"[She's] trying to do that while grieving," O'Donnell said, referring to McCain's dad's death last August. "She was very, very tight with her father, and he had been dying for a while. We watched her daily try to grieve and get through. It's not really that easy. So I do have some compassion for her."
Despite her compassion for McCain, O'Donnell does have one complaint about her behavior on the show -- her treatment of Behar.
"I wish she wouldn't be mean to Joy Behar, who is, you know, like, a living legend, and should be respected for no other reason than she's the elder statesman in the room," O'Donnell said, whose comments come just days after McCain called Behar a "b**ch" on air.
During her WWHL appearance, O'Donnell also spoke about her relationship with Goldberg following the release of Ladies Who Punch, a tell-all book about the behind-the-scenes drama on The View, in April.
"Well believe it or not, we bumped into each other physically at the Megan Mullally show of her concert in Cafe Carlyle and we were very cordial and said hello," she said of her communication with Goldberg. "I worked on a project with her for ABC since this whole McGillicutty occurred. And, you know, I'm always going to respect her. I'm always gonna look up to her. She's somebody who was inspirational in my career and, you know, you like to keep those people in a place of reverence if you can. And that's what I'm hoping to do."
Additionally, O'Donnell spoke about the drama with her former View co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, which started when O'Donnell said she had a "little bit of a crush" on Hasselbeck during their time on the show and claimed there were "underlying lesbian tones on both parts." Hasselbeck took offense to the comments, saying O'Donnell's remarks were "reckless, untrue and... insulting."
From O'Donnell's point of view, though, she exclaimed "Yes!" when Cohen asked if Hasselbeck took her comments out of context.
"Come on. She knows too. That's the thing, is that she knows," O'Donnell said. "She knows exactly what I'm talking about."
As for rumors that O'Donnell would return to TV with a co-hosting gig on The Talk, she revealed that she was never offered the job.
"They didn't ask me to be on The Talk. I know there was the rumor that they did, but I just went when Julie Chen was having people fill in. I was one of many people," she said on the WWHL after show. "You know, I live in New York. It would be very hard for me to move with my family out to California. So that was never a real thing."