EXPLAINER: Breaking down the uncertainty after Capitol siege

With the U.S. Capitol in the background, members of the National Guard stand behind newly placed fencing around the Capitol grounds the day after violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, members of the National Guard stand behind newly placed fencing around the Capitol grounds the day after violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

What happens in Washington after the seat of American lawmaking is overrun by supporters of a president who insists he won an election he actually lost, members of Congress are forced to flee their chambers and general chaos ensues on Capitol Hill — and all of it takes place 14 days before the new president is inaugurated?

As is evident from the question itself, the short answer is this: No one really knows.

There are, however, clues and hints and things to focus on. Julie Pace, Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press, explains the haze around the nation's capital after Wednesday's events, and what she's watching most closely in coming days.

YOU’VE SAID THERE'S LITTLE INDICATION WHERE THIS IS GOING TO GO IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. WHAT MIGHT THAT MEAN?

What is striking about this moment is that we are in pretty uncharted territory. We have a sitting president who lost an election and has raised challenges about the integrity of that election and has millions of Americans believing his successor is illegitimate. While he has said he’ll leave on the 20th, there are two weeks left. And there’s great uncertainty.

It’s very possible that he will finish up the business he has on his plate and leave. But given what we saw at the Capitol, people are very concerned that this could go in a much different direction.

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS KIND OF UNCERTAINTY AT A TIME THAT’S BOTH VOLATILE AND MOMENTOUS?

We’re at one of these moments where you’re going to see a transfer of power from not just one man to the next but one party to another. You’re going to see a significant shift in priorities from one administration to another. You’re going to see a changeover on Capitol Hill. And it’s all happening with major historic issues taking place — the pandemic, the national reckoning over race.