After E! News confirmed on Tuesday, June 8 that Chris would not return to the ABC dating franchise, Rachel addressed the situation during her appearance on Extra later that day.
The franchise's first Black Bachelorette told Billy Bush that the decision took her by surprise, given that some time had gone by since Chris announced in February that he was taking a temporary leave of absence from hosting.
"I wasn't expecting for it to happen, not after the announcement," Rachel said, according to media reports. As for what she felt may have led to the exit, she shared, "We can only speculate."
However, she went on to explain she believed there were moments that possibly contributed to this parting of ways, including members of Bachelor Nation voicing concerns about Chris remaining on as host. Back in March, E! News exclusively reported that a number of franchise alums had been "apprehensive" about taking part in this summer's Bachelor in Paradise due to the ongoing controversies surrounding the franchise.
"I think several past contestants coming forward and saying they didn't want him to be part of Paradise. I think Katie Thurston, her very last tweet before she went to film her season was that Chris needed to step away," she added. "I think that, coupled with the interview that happened on this very stage, maybe led to him not coming back."
Rachel was referring to the Extra interview between Chris and herself that took place on Feb. 9, during which Chris defended Rachael Kirkconnell, who went on to receive Matt James' final rose. The controversy centered on viral photos of Rachael attending a fraternity event in 2018, which a Redditor described as an "Antebellum plantation themed ball."
During the conversation, Chris told Rachel that "we all need to have a little grace" toward Rachael, and he also called out "the woke police."
The following day, Chris took to Instagram to apologize for his comments and acknowledged that what he said "perpetuates racism."
Meanwhile, Katie—who debuted as lead of The Bachelorette on Monday, June 7—tweeted on March 11 that she hopes "that Chris Harrison continues to take more time to step away while sincerely educating himself & dedicating himself to the work." The following day, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams were announced as replacement hosts for the upcoming Bachelorette season, although Katie herself would not be publicly confirmed as the season's lead until March 15.
During her new Extra appearance, Rachel expressed that Chris' move may have been part of a natural progression. "It's been 19 years, and if you do watch the show, we saw less and less of Chris," she said. "Nineteen years is a big accomplishment. Maybe that's the case. We don't know. Maybe they were ready to move on."
As for whether Rachel has accepted Chris' apology, she told Billy she has previously explained that she does. "I still stand by that," she continued. "I do. I think that's the way to move forward."
On June 8, Chris addressed his departure in an Instagram post that read, "I've had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I'm excited to start a new chapter. I'm so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we've made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I've made will last a lifetime."
After Chris confirmed his exit, a source connected to Chris told E! News exclusively that the star was "saddened" to end his gig, and that he "has been in tough negotiations for weeks."
Rachel is but one of many members of Bachelor Nation who have reacted to the news, including Kaitlyn, who posted in an Instagram comment that Chris is "truly irreplaceable as host."