Whatever criticisms were cited for President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, those who have worked with Comey are deeply troubled by his dismissal.
Among them is Charles LaBella, a retired top Justice Department administrator who served as interim U.S. Attorney in San Diego.
His cell phone alerted him to news of Comey’s ouster.
"Right away you say, 'Wow, that doesn't happen,” La Bella told NBC 7 in an interview Wednesday.
“FBI directors don't get fired that way,” he continued. “They don't get fired in the middle of an investigation that touches upon the President and the White House. And there are no good optics as a result of this."
LaBella and Comey were fellow prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's office in New York.
He headed the Justice Department's Campaign Finance Task Force when it investigated alleged Clinton-Gore fundraising violations during the 1996 election cycle.
LaBella says Trump's move will have the effect of delaying the F-B-I's investigation into the Trump campaign and apparent Russian involvement in the election.
He predicts the nominee to replace Comey will be the subject of a political bloodbath, along with the Democrats' insistence that an independent prosecutor lead the investigation.
In LaBella's opinion, Trump's Justice Department, quote, "doesn't have any stomach for an independent counsel."
As for Comey's successor?
"They're going to have the advantage that they will be bullet-proof,” LaBella said. "Because there's no way, no how, under any circumstances that the President could fire another FBI director -- during this context of the same investigation -- and get away with it."
LaBella, now in private practice in San Diego, says he doesn't expect that Comey will comment on the President's claim that Comey told him three times that he wasn't the target of the FBI's investigation.