Fred Snodgrass wept as he described the affair 30 years ago that ended his marriage and destroyed his family - an affair between his wife and Henry Hyde, now the House Judiciary chairman and the man leading the impeachment review of President Clinton.

"It's ridiculous. He had an affair with a young woman with three children," said Snodgrass, a 76-year-old retired furniture salesman who lives in this Fort Lauderdale suburb. "At least the president didn't do that."Hyde, R-Ill., is leading the review of Clinton's grand jury testimony about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. His committee will decide whether the matter should be referred to the full House of Representatives for a vote on articles of impeachment.

In Washington, Hyde admitted to "indiscretions" with a married woman, but he said the story was "an obvious attempt to intimidate me." He said he won't be deterred by the disclosure.

Cherie Soskin, the former Mrs. Snodgrass who now lives in Texas, said that Hyde, who was married at the time, claimed he was single.

"I did not know he was married," she said in Thursday's San Antonio Express-News. "He portrayed himself as a single person, and I didn't bother to check or anything like that."

Soskin, 62, said her marriage was already breaking up when she met Hyde, whom she called Hank. "I was in the process of starting divorce proceedings," she said. "I was no longer living with my husband."

Hyde was 41, a state legislator and the father of four sons when the affair began in 1965 with 29-year-old Cherie Snodgrass, who had a son and two daughters between the ages of 7 and 9 at the time. The relationship lasted until 1969.

Calling Hyde a "super hypocrite," Snodgrass said he suspected his wife was having an affair after a decade of marriage when she began staying out until 3 a.m. and coming back to their Chicago-area home drunk.

"She was so miserable. She said she loved us both and it was true," he said.

The Snodgrasses divorced because of the affair, reconciled, but divorced again in 1971.

Snodgrass said Hyde ruined his life and permanently scarred his children. He said he has no contact with his son or younger daughter, and through hard work re-established a relationship with his other child.

"They had an absent mother when it was crucial," he said. "She hated her life (with me) when he was in the picture. When I look back on it, can you blame her? The white knight showed up."

Republicans rushed to Hyde's defense, accusing the White House of possibly being behind the story and demanding that heads roll or Clinton allies be reined in.

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who has called for Clinton's resignation, said, "The president's attack dogs don't know the difference between breaking the law and making a mistake decades ago."