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A drunken Rudy Giuliani repeatedly urged Donald Trump to “just say we won” on election night last November, according to a new book, even as key states started to slip away from the president and defeat by Joe Biden drew near.

The former mayor of New York was then acting as Trump’s personal attorney, a role in which he had fueled Trump’s first impeachment and would later lead hapless attempts to prove Trump’s lie that his defeat was the result of electoral fraud.

According to Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post, authors of the forthcoming I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year, Giuliani approached senior Trump aides early on election night at the White House.

“What’s happening in Michigan?” he asked.

The campaign manager, Bill Stepien, chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and senior adviser Jason Miller told him it was too early to know.

“Just say we won,” Giuliani said.

The aides said it was the same in Pennsylvania.

“Just say we won,” Giuliani said.

“Giuliani’s grand plan,” the authors report, “was to just say Trump won, state after state, based on nothing. Stepien, Miller and Meadows thought his argument was both incoherent and irresponsible.”

Meadows reportedly responded, angrily: “We can’t do that. We can’t.”

But Trump did.

Leonnig and Rucker, co-authors of another Trump bestseller, A Very Stable Genius, report that Giuliani refused to accept the early call of Arizona, another key state, by Fox News.

“Just go declare victory right now,” Giuliani reportedly told a furious Trump. “You’ve got to go declare victory now.”

At 2am, Trump walked into the East Room.

“This is a fraud on the American public,” he said. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election.”

Trump’s words gave a title to another author in the crowded field of Trump-based reportage and tell-all, Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal. His book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election, and a third by Michael Wolff, Landslide, provide similar accounts of Giuliani’s behaviour and inebriation at key moments.

In his remarks in the East Room, Trump laid the ground for his “big lie” about electoral fraud, the failed legal efforts to prove it, and the deadly assault on the US Capitol on 6 January.

“This is a very big moment,” he said. “This is a major fraud in our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner … To me, this is a very sad moment, and we will win this. And as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.”

Who wins the battle of the Trump bestsellers remains, of course, to be seen. Leonnig and Rucker, both Pulitzer prize winners, would seem well-placed. Their account is drier in style than those by Wolff and Bender but still contains entertaining nuggets from the bizarre last days of a bizarre presidency.

Of Giuliani, now barred from practising law in New York and Washington DC, an anonymous adviser is quoted as saying: “It’s hard to be the responsible parent when there’s a cool uncle around taking the kid to the movies and driving him around in a Corvette.

“When we say the president can’t say that, being responsible is not the easiest place to be when you’ve got people telling the president what he wants to hear. It’s hard to tell the president no. It’s not an enviable place to be.”