The White House press secretary has avoided the land mines that Sean Spicer had a knack of stamping on – but is she any less economical with the truth?

The room at George Washington University was packed with journalists and students as White House press secretary Sarah Sanders walked centre stage. “I’m hoping maybe this crowd is a little bit nicer than the one I sometimes face,” she said.

It was. Over the next hundred minutes Sanders staunchly defended her boss, Donald Trump, reeling off a list of his perceived achievements and grievances. Five White House correspondents took her on but, in an atmosphere more collegiate than combative, she brushed them aside with a mix of zealous certainty, down-home charm and wry jokes. The 35-year-old was lavished with praise for showing up and roundly applauded by audience members, some of whom raced forward in the hope of a handshake or photo.

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