(Recasts with additional investigations, charges pursued in Capitol riots)
By Sarah N. Lynch, Mark Hosenball and Eric Beech
WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has opened criminal investigations of more than 170 individuals on their involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump's supporters, and investigators are working toward charging people with assault and seditious conspiracy, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. said on Tuesday.
"I think the scope and scale of this investigation and these cases are really unprecedented, not only in FBI history, but probably DOJ history," Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
"The Capitol grounds outside and inside are... a crime scene."
Sherwin said 70 criminal cases have been filed to date. While many of them involve people whose photos went viral on social media, such as one of a man pictured sitting at the desk of a staffer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said more serious charges are coming and a grand jury has been reviewing the cases.
"We're looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy," Sherwin said, noting his office has launched a strike force whose marching orders are to build criminal cases around such charges.
He added that other strike forces have been formed to focus on assaults on law enforcement and members of the media. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Brad Heath; Editing by Scott Malone and Dan Grebler)